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Full text of "History of Dracut, Massachusetts, called by the Indians Augumtoocooke and before incorporation, the wildernesse north of the Merrimac. First permanment settlement in 1669 and incorporated as a town in 1701"

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TOWN IN 1701 

By Silas R. Coburn 

History haa a great office, to make the past intelligent 
to the present for the guidance of the future." 

Charles Kniahl 


Pbess of the Coukier-Citizen Co. 

lowell, mass. 

Copyrighted, 1922 

By Silas R. Coburn 









WERE THE Early Settlers in this Vicinity 


Ubis flDemorial 

IS Dedicated with Respect and Affection by 


Introduction ix 

Chapter I — Settlement of Draeut 1 

II— Period of the Glacial Movement 20 

III— Indian History 30 

IV — Early Grants and Allotments of Re- 
served Land 65 

V — Establishment of the Province Line .... 97 

VI— Early Wars 108 

VII— The Revolutionary War 117 

VIII— Shay 's Rebellion and War of 1812 162 

IX — War of the Rebellion, Indian and 

Spanish Wars 168 

X — War with Germany and Her Allies .... 176 

XI— Church History 182 

XII— Mills and Industries 210 

Including Woolen, Cotton, Carpet and Paper 
Mills, Saw and Grist Mills, Fulling and 
Carding Mills, Tanneries and numerous mis- 
cellaneous industries. 

XIII — Schools, Libraries and Lyceums 225 

XIV — Roads, Ferries and Bridges 241 

XV — Cemeteries, Physicians and Tragedies . . 274 

XVI — Mines, Quarries and Fisheries 285 

XVII — Electric Service, Draeut Water Supply 

System 294 

XVIII— Survey of Roads 298 

By Hon. B. F. Varnum. 

XIX— Miscellaneous Subjects 312 

XX — Biography and Genealogy 364 

Concluding Remarks 434 


THE HISTORY OF DRACUT is now presented to the public 
in accordance with the request of the citizens of the 
town for a history which would embody in one volume the 
various subjects which relate to its existence. I make no claim 
to any special knowledge of events or superior ability to place 
them upon record. No writer of a work of this nature can 
prepare the material from a personal knowledge of the facts, 
for the participants have, with a few exceptions, gone "To the 
pale realms of shade, where each must take his chamber in the 
silent halls of death," and even their existence has been 

Facts and information have been gathered from difiEerent 
sources. The records of the town have been carefully studied, 
though as the town clerks of the earlier years did not realize 
the need of a full account of the transactions of the town, it 
has been difficult to record the proceedings of those years. No 
record of the first ten years of ■ the town's existence has been 
preserved, and whatever events of that period are here recorded 
have been obtained from other sources. 

The Registry of Deeds and probate records of Middlesex 
County have been examined and much information from this 
source supplements the records of the town. The State archives 
have been examined and material relating to the years before 
Draeut received a name has been gathered. Valuable assistance 
has been rendered by members of Draeut families who have 
preserved the business papers and letters of earlier days. Too 
often these have been considered of no value and have been 
destroyed. To the historian many of these seemingly worthless 
papers have proved invaluable. These old documents yellow 
with age, often nearly illegible, in handwriting strange and 
cramped, make clear many difficult problems in historical matters. 
Old letters, old account books and old diaries have contributed 
facts obtainable in no other way. The residence of a lifetime 
in or near Draeut has assisted materially in the compilation 
of this work. The many changes wrought in these years are 
thus recorded from personal recollection, and acquaintanceship 


with the old residents has furnished opportunity for storing 
the memory with their reminiscences. These facts have been 
verified as far as possible by personal observation which has 
extended over several years, as I long ago realized the value of 
a town history and commenced collecting information, hoping 
that in the future some one would weave it into a book and 
thus retain it in a permanent form. 

No history of Dracut has ever been published from which 
to learn of the proceedings of earlier days and much which is 
of value has been lost. As the present generation passes away 
and- traditions are forgotten, these collections will be of value 
to those who take our places as citizens of the Town of Dracut. 
In the collection of these facts I have been ably assisted by 
many who have been interested in the production of a history 
and I take this opportunity to acknowledge their kindness. 
I feel especially indebted to the late Edwin M. Currier, formerly 
of this town, as many a problem has been solved by him which, 
only for his patient and careful study, would remain unsolved. 
Much of the success attained by these records is due to his 
unremitting labor. I am also indebted to Walter McK. Draycot 
of Lynn Creek, B. C, Canada, for information relating to the 
Dracuts of England which have given the town its name and 
which is the only Dracut in the United States. A study of the 
early records of England has enabled him to trace the history 
of the name back to the time of the Norman Conquest in the 
year 1066, and to the Roman occupation B. C. 54. I acknowledge 
valuable assistance rendered by Miss Elizabeth Cobum of 
Varnum Avenue, whose collection of old papers furnished 
information which could be gathered from no other source. 
Many facts relating to Indian history and the Revolution have 
been found among old papers owned and carefully preserved 
by Mrs. Clarence G. Coburn, now residing in Pawtucketville, 
and cheerfully placed at my disposal; also to Mr. W. T. S. 
Bartlett and Mr. J. M. Wilson for contributions to the Indian 

The trustees of the Dracut Town Library have assisted in 
the work by ad^dce in relation to publication of the book. The 
financial assistance which makes it possible to place the history 
before the public has been given by the citizens of the town, 


who at the annual town meeting held February 2nd of the 
past year, 1921, voted to defray the expense and appropriated 
money for this purpose, appointing the Library Trustees a 
committee to attend to the publication. I wish to thank all who 
by furnishing information or by words of encouragement have 
assisted me in this work, which is the result of twenty-eight 
years' study. I do not assert that the work in every respect 
is absolutely correct. Errors will creep in however careful a 
writer may be, and I trust that the reader wiU be lenient and 
will understand the difficulties to be encountered in the 
preparation of a work of this nature. 

There are, to some extent, facts recorded in this work with 
which the present generation is acquainted, but I believe that 
as household utensils are placed upon the shelves of a museum 
for the instruction of future generations who wiU know of them 
only by tradition, so the same principle should apply in the 
preparation of a history. The present generation will have 
passed away, but the future generations viill have the same 
desire to study the acts of the former years which are possessed 
by us. 

The peculiar manner in which the early documents were 
wTitten with the quaint spelling and abundance of capital letters 
which preceded a general rule for their use has been retained. 
It should be borne in mind that this was not the result of 
ignorance on the part of the ^vriters, but was the style then 
in use. No doubt the style of speUing in the time of Chaucer 
and Spencer would present the same difficulties to our fore- 
fathers which theirs does to us, and in one or two centuries 
those persons who examine the writings of the present day will 
probably find as marked a contrast as exists at present between 
the style now in use and that of a century ago. The English 
language of the time six centuries ago can hardly be recognized 
as the language of the present day and no one can predict with 
any certainty what its future may be. 

My object in writing this history has been to instruct and 
entertain the readers. The work has been performed without 
expectation of pecuniary reward. The formation of new 
acquaintances, the study of the works of nature and the 
satisfaction to be derived from the knowledge that those who 


study this history will be led to take a deeper interest in the 
early days of the town's existence has provided ample 
compensation. The amount I receive from the town I consider 
a gratuity and wish to extend to my fellow-citizens my thanks 
for the gift. After twenty-eight years of study and preparation 
this history is now placed before the public, and it is my earnest 
desire that the lessons of patience, patriotism and good 
citizenship tauglit us by our ancestors may not be forgotten, but 
may be transmitted from generation to generation. 

j^^r %^UtjA^^u 

Dracut, Mass., 

January 1, 1922. 


DRACUT is located in Middlesex County, in the State of 
Massachusetts. It is in latitude 42° 41' and longitude 
71° 19'. It is a border town on the line between New Hampshire 
and Massachusetts, and is about 34 miles west of the Atlantic 
ocean at the mouth of the Merrimack river, 27 miles north of 
Boston and 25 miles south of Manchester, N. H. It is bounded 
north by Pelham, N. H., east by Methuen, south by the Merri- 
mack river and Lowell, and west by Tyngsboro. These are the 
boundaries at the present time although greatly changed from 
those which existed at the time of the incorporation of the town. 
The establishment of the Province line and annexations of por- 
tions of the town to Lowell and Tyngsboro have contracted its 
area. When first laid out, it was bounded on the west and north- 
west by Dunstable; on the north and east by wilderness land; 
and south and southwest by the Merrimack river. According to 
the surveyor's report, it contained 22,334 acres at the time of 
laying out, which, from the liberal measurements of those times, 
was probably nearer 30,000. In 1832 the area was stated to be 
15,673 acres, and in 1914 it was 12,530 acres. 

The population of the town as shown by census of Province, 
United States and state is given : 

1765 Prov 1173 1840 U. S 2188 

1776 Prov 1173 1850 U. S 3503 

1790 U. S 1217 1855 State 1966 

1860 U. S 1881 1875 State 1116 

1865 State 1905 1880 U. S 1595 

1870 U. S 2078 1885 State 1927 

1800 U. S 1274 1890 U. S 1996 

1810 U. S 1301 1895 State 2443 

1820 U. S 1407 1900 U. S 3253 

1830 U. S 1615 


The early immigrants settled first upon or near the seaeoast, 
but being people of courage and enterprise, they gradually 
occupied the wilderness which was unbroken to the settlements 
in Canada. Chelmsford, which may be considered the mother 
town of Dracut, was incorporated May 29, 1655, nearly half a 
century before this town had a legal existence. The Merrimack 
river was so much of a barrier to the further progress of settle- 
ment that a long interval elapsed between the dates of incorpora- 
tion of these two towns. Until Dracut became a town the 
people who lived on the north side of the river were considered 
as belonging to Chelmsford. We quote from an old record: 
"Chelmsford also held jurisdiction over the settlements upon 
the north of the Merrimack at what is now Dracut and the 
part of Lowell which lies north of the river." The people 
voted and paid taxes in Chelmsford and depended upon that 
town for protection. This relation was confirmed by the Court 
in 1667, and to show that the citizens in those days were careful 
about the expenditure of money and would not pay taxes until 
the legality of such payment was assured, and it was an obliga- 
tion to do so, the quaint order of the court is given : 

"Farmes abt Vpon information of sundry ffarmes 

Merrimac to erected above Merrimack River whose 

belong to inhabitants pretend their sayd 

Middlesex farmes to be out of the County of 

Courts Middlesex and possibly be not con- 

tayned in any county, it is therefore ordered by this Court & the 
authority thereof that all and every the inhabitants of such 
farmes as there are or shall be improved, in all points, have their 
dependencies vpon & performe services & beare chardges w* 
the sayd towne of Chelmsford & that the sajd ffarmes repair to 
the courts of Middlesex for Justice & all till this Court take 
further orders, any lawe or custome notw"^standing Oct. 7, 

Major Henchman, who had a garrison house on the Chelms- 
ford side of the river and who had charge of the defence of the 
vicinity, in a letter to the Governor and Council dated July 12, 
1669, says: "Wherefore, Honorable and Worshipful I judge it 


highly needful and necessary that we have relief, and that 
speedily of about twenty men or more for the repulsing of the 
enemy and guarding some outplaces, which are considerable on 
each side of the Merrimac, as Messrs. Howard, Varnum, Coburn 
&c who must otherwise come in to us, and leave what they have 
to the enemy, or be exposed to the merciless cruelty of bloody 
and barbarous men." [Fox's "History of Dunstable."] The 
Chelmsford records give the names of six tax payers on the 
north side of the river in 1671, viz., Samuel Varnum, John 
Coborn, Robert Coborn, Edward Coburn Sr., Edward Coburn, 
Jr., and Thomas Coborn. 

The history of Dracut before its incorporation is meagre. 
Some of the properties changed owners, hut many were held 
in possession by the Colburns, Varnums and Richardsons. Their 
families had increased and they began to desire a town organiza- 
tion, and a settled ministry. Joining with four non-resident 
owners, they presented a petition to the General Court to be 
laid out for a township. 

The petition for incorporation is as follows : 

"To the Hon. Council & Representatives of his Majesty's 
Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England in 
General Court assembled February 1701. 
"The petition of Samuel Sewall Esq., Benjamin Walker, John 
Hunt & Jonathan Belcher, proprietors of part of the Tract of 
Land called Dracut beyond Chelmsford in the County of Middle- 
sex on the North Side of Merrimack River and of Samuel 
Varnum, Thomas Varnum, John Varnum, Joseph Varnum, 
Thomas Colburne, Daniel Coolburn, Daniel Colburn, Jr., Ezra 
Colburn, Joseph Colburn, John Colburn, Robert Colburn, 
William Colburne, James Richardson, Ezekiel Richardson, Benja. 
Richardson, Joseph Richardson, Ezra Colburn, Jr., Josiah Col- 
burne, Hannah Colburn, widow, Elizabeth Colburne, widow, & 
Hannah Richardson, Inhabitants and Proprietors of the said 
Tract of Land called Dracut, 

Humbly showeth 
That the said Tract of Land (which adjoins to Dunstable on 
the west and northwest & runs seven miles Eastward upon the 


River from Dunstable line and and six miles northward from 
the River) lyes very commodious for a Township & hath about 
twenty families already settled thereupon in which are about 
Eighty Souls & Forasmuch as the making said place a Tounship 
will not only be a great Encouragement to the Inhabitants 
thereof & be the means for a settlement of the Ministry among 
them (for the benefit of which they are now obliged to go to 
Chelmsford, which is a great difficulty & eamiot be attended by 
their children & several others by reason of the distance thereof) 
but will also be of considerable benefit to the Publick, and be a 
great strengthening of the Frontier parts by reason of the 
people which will be desirous to settle at said place when made 
a Township because of the convenient situation thereof. 

Your Petitioners humbly pray that by the grant of this 
Hon.ble Court, the Tract of land aforesaid may be made a 
Township, and that the Inhabitants, which are or shall settle 
thereupon, may have and enjoy all Libertys, Privileges & Im- 
munities as the Inhabitants of other Towns within this Province 
have & do enjoy. And your Pet,rs as in duty bound shall ever 
pray etc. In the House of Representatives Febr 25 1701. Read 
in the House of Representatives February 25 1701. Resolved, 
That the prayer of the Petition on the other side be granted and 
the Tract of Land therein described be made a Township & 
called by the name of Dracut, provided that the Bounds Speci- 
fied Intrench not upon any former Grant as Grants of Townships. 
That the Inhabitants of Land assist in the maintenance of the 
ministry at the Town of Chelmsford as at present they do, until 
they are provided with a Minister as the Law directs. That a 
General Plot of said Land (taken by a sworn surveyor) be laid 
before this Court at their Session beginning in May next. And 
that if any Land shall happen to fall within the Bounds afore- 
said that hath not been heretofore granted it shall be reserved 
to be disposed of by this government. 

Sent up by concurrence 
Nehemiah Jewett, Speaker." 

In the above petition, the first four persons mentioned were 
not settlers or residents of the territory. Hunt and Walker 
were sons-in-law of Alcock, who purchased the "Western half 


of the Russell grant, which is now the Navy Yard village and 
the region about Hovey square, and Belcher owned the eastern 
half which included the Center and Centralville. Samuel Var- 
num was the first of the name to settle here and Thomas, John 
and Joseph were his sons. The name of Edward Colburn, who 
came from Ipswich and who was the progenitor of the Colbums 
and Coburns does not appear on the petition, although he was 
living at the time, as his death occurred in 1712, but his sons, 
Thomas, Daniel, Ezra, Joseph and Robert were signers. The 
other Colbums, including John, must have been grandsons of 
Edward, as his son John died in 1695. 

The Richardsons were allied with the Colburns by marriage 
and had settled here soon after the Coburns and Varnums had 
arrived. The petition was favorably received and the report 
is as follows: 

" At a Great and General Court or Assembly of the Province 
of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England begun and held in 
Boston upon Wednesday the 28th day of May 1700 and con- 
tinued by several prorogations & adjournments unto Wednesday 
the 18th day of February and then met Thursday Feb 26 1701. 
A petition of Samuel Sewall Esq., Ephraim Hunt Esq., Benjamin 
Walker, John Hunt & Jonathan Belcher Proprietors of part of 
the tract of land called Dracut, beyond Chelmsford, in the 
Count}' of Middlesex on the North side of Merrimack River & 
of Samuel Varnum & several others inhabitants and proprietors 
of the said tract of land, .praying that the said tract of land 
which adjoins Dunstable on the West and Northwest & runs 
seven miles Eastward upon the River from Dunstable line and 
six miles Northward from the River may be made a Township 
& that the Inhabitants which are, or shall settle thereupon, may 
have and enjoy all liberties, priveleges & immunities as the In- 
habitants of other towns within the Province have and do enjoy, 
was sent up from the House of Representatives with a resolve 
passed by that House thereupon in the words following (being 
a repetition of the foregoing resolve passed in the House of 
Representatives) In Council 26th of February 1701, Read. 
Concurred with and consented to. 

Coppy examined. J. Willakd Sec 'ry. ' ' 


It is proper in this place to state the difference between the 
old and new style of dating. The legal year at this time com- 
menced in March, February being reckoned as the twelfth month. 
The new style which commenced the year with January was in 
use upon the continent of Europe, but was not legally adopted 
by Great Britain and her colonies until 1752, although used to 
some extent. A careful inspection of the Court records will 
show the old style of dating. Some writers have failed to bear 
the difference in mind and have given the date of incorporation 
which is not in accordance with the present style. On the 28th 
of February the Court adjourned to the following April, the 
opening of the session bearing the date of April 9, 1702. With 
the resolve the petitioners were ordered to present a plot or map 
of the to^vnship "in May next." This order was obeyed and 
the surveyors' report with the plot bears date "ye 26: 3 mo. 
1702, ' ' showing the Old Style as before. In accordance therefore 
with the present new style, commencing the year with the first 
of January, the correct date of the incorporation of Draeut is 
February 26, 1702. The town seal bears the date, 1701. 

The survey ordered by the General Court was made by 
Jonathan Danforth, whose services as surveyor were in demand 
throughout a large part of the County. The report is as 
follows : 

"26:3 mo. 1702 According to the order of the Honble Genl. 
Court of last year there is laid out to the Inhabitants and pro- 
prietors of Dracutt, a tract of land for a township on the North- 
side of Merrimack River, it begins at an Island lying in Merri- 
mack River called Wekasook and takes about half of it, and is 
bounded by Capt- Scarlett and Dunstable line on the North West 
as far as Kimballs farme at Jerimies Hill which is about six miles 
in a crooked line, then it is bounded by Dunstable line on the 
west about 4 miles. It is bounded southerly by Merrimack River 
about 7 miles by a straight line from Wekasook where we began. 
The Southeast corner is a white oak marked with a D a Little 
from the river and from thence it runs due North 6 miles, which 
line is near parallel vdih Dunstable line on that side. Then by 
a Northwest line it eloseth to Dunstable line. 

Jonathan Danforth surveyor." 


At this time the Province line had not been established, 
which, numing through the town, caused all of the north part of 
the town to lie in New Hampshire and this was later, with some 
of the territory west of the brook at that time in Dunstable, 
incorporated with the name of Pelham. Jeremies Hill lies west 
of Beaver Brook between the Mammoth road and Hudson and 
is the next high hill north of Gumpus Hill and Gurapus pond. 

The earliest recorded deed to land in what is now known as 
Dracut, Mass. This deed was made in 1664 and is one of the 
deeds, a copy of which is at the local court house, among those 
copied at such great labor and expense from the records at 

"Articles of agreement made the 10th day of January iu 
the yeare of our Lord according to the computaccon of England 
One Thousand Six hundred and sixty foure, betweene John 
Evered als. In. Web of Drawcutt, upon Merrimack in the 
County of Norfolke in New England gentleman, of the one party, 
and Richard Shatwell of Ipswich in the county of Essex, yeom. 
and Samuel Varnam of Ipswich aforesaid yeom. of the other pte 
witnesseth tliat the said John Evered als. Web. for and in consid- 
eration of the sume of foure hundred pounds of Lawful money of 
& in New England aforesaid to be payd to him the said John 
Web, his heyres. Executor admetrator & assignes in mann & 
forme following viz that is to say currant pay of New England 
aforesaid, two third pts of the valine of the said sume of foure 
hundred pounds currant pay as aforesaid in wheate, mault, or 
pease, and the other third part of the vallew of ye said sume of 
foure hundred pounds aforesd and ye remainder of ye sd Sume 
of foure hundred pounds in beeffs, porke or Indians neery to 
be payd in equall pportions and in defect of the paymt of porke 
to be payd in wheate & maute and in defect of any of the said 
paymts or all the said paymts to be payd in marcchantable fish 
currant price of New England, for the full paymt and in sattis- 
faccon of the said foure hundred pounds aforesaid, to be payd 
and sattisfied at, in before or upon the dayes & times hereafter in 
and by these presents mentioned & reserved, that is to say one 
third pt thereof to be payd at, upon, or before the tenth day of 


March wch shall be in the yeare of our Lord One Thousand six 
hundred and sixty-five, and the second third part thereofto be 
payd, at, upon, or before the tenth day of March wch shall be 
in the yeare of our Lord one thousand six hundred and sixty 
and six and the other third part being the full remainder of the 
said paymt for ye paymt & sattisfaccon of the said sume of 
foure hundred pounds at upon or before the tenth day of March 
wch shall be in the yeare of our Lord one thousand six hundred 
and Sixty seaven. Hath demised, given, granted, bargained, 
sold, Aliened, Enfeoffed & confirmed and by these presents doth 
demise, give, grant, bargaine, sell, alien, enfeoffe & confirme unto 
them the said Richard Shatshwel and Samuel Varnum, the 
moyty or one halft of the farme of Drawcutt aforesaid of up- 
land, meadow & pasture to be equally divided and also the feild 
below the bame, now in tillage arrable land with the appurten- 
ances, except and always reserved out of the demised, grant, 
bargain and sale to him, the said John Web, his hyres, excecutors 
& assignes all the feild arrable land and tillage together with 
all & all manner of houses, barnes, structures, edifices & buildings 
whatsoever with the appurtenances and also the garden, the feild 
mentioned to be called the upper feild and also reserved three 
acres of the said lower feild aforesaid below the log fence neere 
the barne together with that parcell of laud fenced in with the 
said log fence, neere the barne aforesaid with the appurtenances 
the said moyty or one halfe of the aforesaid upland to be equally 
divided meadow and Pasture to be lane out and equally divided at 
both the ends of the said farme, that is to say at the east end and 
west end, that is to say to by on both sides of the said John Web 
Proporccon moyty or one half of the lands of the said farme, 
the true intent and meaning hereof is that the moyty or one 
halfe of the said laud so demised & sold is to contene by estima- 
tion Eleven hundred acres at least, to be equally divided as 
aforesaid, one himdred and acres of the pcell of Land called 
Draw meadow with the upland belonging to it to be part of the 
said Eleven hundred acres to have and to hold the said Lands 
and premises so bargained & sold unto them the said Richard 
Shatswell and Samuel Varnam, their heyres, Excecutors & 
Assignes forever to enure to the sole & only propper use and 
behooffe of them the said Richard Shatswell and Samuel Varnam 


their heyres, Exceeutors & assignes forever, and to no other 
use behooffe, intent or purpose whatsoever. In witness whereof 
the said partyes to these presents above mentioned have hereunto 
put their hands & Seals the day and yeare first above written. 
Mem. before the sealing and delivce hereof Mary Evered als. Web 
the none wife of the said John Web, hath by these presents 
covenanted and granted to jojoie with the said John Web in the 
bargaine & Sale of the said land & premises as witness her hand 
and sale, hereunto set and subscribed. 
In the presence of viz. 
Hugh Stone. 
Hen Nelson. 

Jno. Evered als. Web and a seal. 

RiCHAKD Shatswell and a seal. 

Samuel Varnam and a seal." 

Original Boundaries 
By Edwin M. Currier 

It is in many instances difBeult or impossible to apply an 
old plan to a modern map with satisfactory results. Measure- 
ments were far more liberal than indicated on paper. "The 
seven miles in a strait line" was practically eight or about ten, 
measuring by the curves of the river. Wliat allowance was made 
for the variation of the compass is not stated, or if they allowed 
any. The actual limits of tlie township are to be ascertained by 
other data. 

The east line has never been changed save as cut ofE at 
the north by the new province line of 1741. The west line in- 
cluded about one half of Wekasook or Tyngs Island. From 
Wekasook, or Island brook as the eastern channel of the river 
was called, the line ran about a mile, in a northeasterly course 
to its first angle, now indicated by a stone post on the north side 
of Boar meadow. In the survey of town bounds in Middlesex 
county in 1907 this is the one called Corner 1, Lowell- Tyngsboro. 
There is little doubt that this mile line was the bound between 
the military grant, owned by Capt. John Webb, and a grant to 
Richard Dummer and sold to Samuel Scarlet lying up on the 
river in what is now Tyngsboro. 


From Corner 1 the old line ran some thirty degrees east- 
ward of the north about a third of a mile to a corner now marked 
by a stone post and called Corner 5, Dracut-Tyngsboro, on the 
survey map before mentioned. This post stands on the east 
side of Trotting Park road, a short distance south of the old 
trotting park and eastward by Mud pond or Little Mascuppic. 
The locality was called "Bear Meadow Plain." From this 
point northward to the state line, the western bounds of the town 
have never been changed as far as known. The writer has ex- 
amined five or six different plans, showing the old western 
boundaries, but varying somewhat one from another. While 
there may be errors in the foregoing description he feels 
reasonably sure of its substantial correctness. 

By resolve of the General Court, April 22, 1755, the estates 
of Abraham, Thomas and John Littlehale were, on their petition, 
annexed to the town of Dunstable. The new line commenced 
at the mouth of Scarlet's brook and followed the brook up about 
one fourth of a mile. Then from the brook it ran about twenty- 
two degrees eastward of the north one hundred and eighty-six 
rods to the old corner bound north of Bear meadow (corner 1 
before mentioned) and about one hundred and forty rods from 
the roadstone on Varnum avenue. From this angle, by five 
courses, the old angle on Bear Meadow Plain is reached (corner 
5). By reference to the map the singular projection of Tyngs- 
boro territory into the town of Dracut is noticeable. The granite 
posts at the corners were placed in 1822, as chiseled on them. 

A perambulation by the selectmen of the two towns Oct. 6, 
1773, mentions both the old and new bounds; "Commencing at 
the mouth of Scarlet brook and following up said brook to a 
stake and stones, then an old stump with stones by it, near a 
meadow, then cross the said meadow & not finding the bounds 
there, then to a large pine tree marked, then to a stake and stones, 
at the Corner of Samuel Colburns Willow House so called, then 
to two Black oak trees marked, then to a small Birch tree 
marked, then to a large crotched pine tree marked standing in 
Dunstable old line." After perambulating the rest of the old 
line to the state boundary, "We renewed the old bounds upon 
the old line between the said towns. Beginning at the river upon 
Island at a white oak tree marked D. D. then to a heap 


of stones where is a tree fallen do\ni marked D. D. then to a 
dry pine tree marked D. D. then not finding any more bounds 
till we come to the crotched pine above mentioned; the above 
said bounds first upon the new line then upon the old we 
mutually agree to be the bounds between the two towns." Just 
what was the structure called ' ' Samuel Colburns Willow House ' ' 
we are not informed; but apparently it stood near the north 
east corner of the territory annexed to Dunstable. The comer 
post is ' ' forty nine feet distant from an angle in the wall at the 
edge of Bushy Meadow." (Survey of 1907.) The east line 
of Dracut, nominally six miles, was certainly seven or more, and 
must have reached within half of a mile of the southern end of 
Canobie Lake. 

The perambulation of the Dracut-Dunstable line in Decem- 
ber, 172.3, begins, "At a pine tree on the north side of Beaver 
brook in sight of said brook, being marked and lettered with 
F., it being fallen down we have laid stones about it ; from thence 
running southward b.y the old marked trees, many of them 
lettered D. D. till we come near to a place called the Stone Dam, 
then not finding the old bounds we aGreed both parties to mark 
a pine which stands on the east side of Beaver Brook 4 rods 
from said Dam * * * * from said bound tree running south- 
ward to a pine tree marked and lettered D. D. So running to a 
pine marked and stones about it near to a pine tree which is 
called the South East angle of Henry Kimbals farm, and from 
said pine tree we run the old bounds to Long Pond." Stone 
Dam was a natural dam across Beaver brook where Butlers 
mills (now Atwood's) at North Pelham, now stands. 

Further data are given by a perambulation, December 15, 
1733, omitting the numerous white oaks, black oaks, pine, etc., 
mentioned as bound marks: "Began at the Northern corner of 
Dracut next to Methuen, so went on the North West line of Dra- 
cut crossing a meadow to a pine tree * # # * ^j^gji ^ maple 
with a heap of stones on the southerly side of Goldings Pond 
otherwise called Cobets Pond crossing said pond, then a red 
oak, then crossing Goldings Brook, then a pond crossing Drye 
pond « • * * ; then a west line, a white oak near Beaver 
Brook, then several pines lettered D. D. to Beaver Brook or Stone 
Dam to a pine ye east side * * « * tjien a heap of stones on 


the end of Round Hill on the west side of the road, we did not 
show the line to the tree lettered F." The pine tree marked F 
near Beaver Brook is mentioned by Jonathan Danforth in his 
survey of Dunstable in 1674. It cannot be located with accuracy. 
According to Mr. Kimball Webster (History of Hudson, N. H.) 
it later became the "northwest corner of Dracut, the northeast 
corner of Nottingham and the southeast corner of Litchfield, as 
these towns were chartered by Massachusetts; notwithstanding 
that the south line of Londonderry, as chartered by New Hamp- 
shire was two miles south of the aforesaid ancient bound pine." 
Mr. Kimball Webster locates this bound as a short distance north 
of the point where the Worcester division of the Boston and 
Maine Railroad crosses Beaver Brook and on the northwest side 
of the brook. 

In this connection it may be stated that Methuen £ls char- 
tered by Massachusetts, 1725, covered a part of the territory 
north of Dracut occupied by Londonderry settlers. The charter of 
the latter, 1722, gave them as far south as the present PeUiam- 
Windham line, although by their deed from Wheelwright, 1719, 
they could claim only to the old line of Dracut. After this terri- 
tory was set off to New Hampshire, 1741, of course the London- 
derry charter was sustained. From the foregoing data a plan 
may be drawn showing approximately the bounds of the northern 
part of Dracut. Placing the northeasterly corner of the town 
about one half mile south of Canobie Lake and a short distance 
eastward of the Salem-Windliam line, a northwesterly line will 
cross the southerly line of Corbett's pond, then Goulding's brook 
and reach the point designated as Dracut northwest corner 
about three fourths of a mile southwesterly from Windham 
depot. Thence from the data quoted, the line must run four 
rods east of the Stone Dam and over the east side of Round Hill 
a little west of Mammoth road. The hill is about one fourth of 
a mile westerly of Hutchinson's bridge. From Round Hill the 
line continues on the same course, doubtless intended for a mag- 
netic north and south to the "Southeast angle of Henry Kim- 
ball's farm," a little west of Beaver brook. From all attainable 
data this "southeast angle" was some quarter of a mile southeast 
of the farm buildings on the old Darius Stickney place, and 
near the electric road. From this angle the line ran in a south- 


westerly course to the north end of Long pond touching the 
pond on the northwesterly side as shown by the old map of 1702. 
It is understood to have been the southerly boundary of the old 
Stickney farm, eastward of the Stickney road. It would cross 
the Dr. Batchelder place, now the residence of Mr. Frank 
Stickney, north of the house, and cross the Tenney road east- 
ward of the Edmund Tenney house. Thence crossing Broad 
Meadow, southward of the house, it would reach the Mammoth 
road near the old Gumpus burying ground.* 

By the adjustment of the boundary line between New Hamp- 
shire and Massachusetts, 1741, nearly one half of the original area 
of Dracut came under the jurisdiction of New Hampshire. That 
portion lying north of the Londonderry line became part of the 
new town of Windham chartered 1742. It had been considered 
by Dracut as a part of the Reserved lands and lots had been 
laid out to some of the proprietors, though it is not probable 
that any Dracut people had settled there. In 1746 that part of 
old Dracut between Windham and the new province Une, with 
a section of Nottingham on the west and a small portion of 
former Methuen territory on the east, was incorporated as the 
town of Pelham. The present northeast corner of the town at 
the angle formed by the junction of the Dracut-Methuen line 
with the state line is on a hill about one third of a mile south 
of North or Whites Pond known as Poplar or Ayres hiU. Refer- 
ence has been made to this hill as being a double hill and it is 
between the two summits where the boundary monument is 
erected, lettered on the north side P 1890 and on the south side 
D & M 1890. 

In 1702 a petition was presented to the state authorities, the 
substance of which is found in the reply of the Council : 

*A singular error occurs in the record of the laying out of Dunstable 1674 : 
"From the pine tree marked F to the angle of Kimballs farm the line 
is said to run two degrees west of south. From the same angle to 
Long pond it ran 'two degrees and a quarter westward of the south' 
as it is stated a difference of only a quarter of a degree which is obvi- 
ously wrong. Probably 'south west' was intended instead of 'south.' Fox 
seems to have been misled by this error in drawing the map for his 
'History of Dunstable.' " 


"COUNCIL RECORDS Vol. Ill p. 316 

AT A COUNCIL held at the Council Chamber in Boston 
upon Saturday the 30th of May 1702. Upon reading the 
Petition of the Inhabitants of the Town of Draeut therein 
setting forth that they are obliged to attend military Exercises 
at Chelmsford the next adjoining Town which being several 
miles from their houses is not only a great hardship to them, 
but doth much expose their wives and children to the Insolency 
of the Indians and put them in fear, praying to be excused 
from that difficulty and that some suitable person among them- 
selves may be commissioned to train and instruct them in 
Military Exercises. Ordered. That the Petitioners be discharged 
from Attending of Military exercises in the Town of Chelms- 
ford, and that Jonathan Tyng Esqr. major of the regiment 
whereto they belong do appoint one of themselves to exercise 
them upon the place until further order. Which order was 
signed by the major part of the Council. 

Edw. Rawson, Secretary." 

After the incorporation of the town the people continued 
to act with Chelmsford in religious matters until the relations 
were severed by the following action of the General Court: " Jan- 
awary the : 14 : 1705-6. It was voated that Draw Cut shall not 
voate In Chelmsford." The descendants of the first settlers 
realized the hardships which their ancestors endured to settle the 
new tovsm of Draeut and generally resisted all efforts for a 
change in its boundary lines. 

In 1774 there was inserted in the town warrant an article 
"to see if the town will vote off the easterly part as far up 
Merrimac river as to a white oak on the bank of the river 10 rods 
east of Ephraim Richardsons Brook to the Province line 40 
perches west of George Burns' house in order to join with the 
westerly part of Methuen for a town." The line would have 
been east of the Jonathan Fox house and near the Warren Rich- 
ardson house which was east of Marsh Hill on Burns hill. The 
to\vn refused to consent to the proposition. In 1788 the inhabi- 
tants of that part of Dunstable east of the river petitioned the 
General Court to be annexed to Draeut. The latter town at a 


meeting held April 7, 1788 consented to receive them. The 
Court however did not favor the petition and no further action 
was taken. 

About the year 1790 a petition was received requesting the 
town to set off the west portion between a line drawn from Merri- 
mack river at the "Sor Pit" * northward to the station tree on 
Parker Varnums land, with Merrimack river on the west. The 
object was to have Dracut, parts of Chelmsford and Tyngsboro 
join to be incorporated as a new town. The line would run 
from a point in the river east of the mouth of Beaver brook to 
the boundary pine monument on the State line. The town re- 
fused to agree to the partition of its territory. 

In 1805 the town was invited to become a part of New 
Hampshire but again declined to change. The boundary lines 
remained undisturbed for many years after the establishment of 
the state line in 1741, except for the change of bounds at the 
west end in 1755 as before mentioned, but the Pawtueket falls 
with their available power produced remarkable changes in a 
short period of time. If the river had been unobstructed by 
the falls, Chelmsford and Dracut would have retained their con- 
dition as towns in which the chief business was farming, and 
Lowell would never have existed. The population, which was 
greatly increased by the erection of the factories required a 
large territory on which to reside. There were no street cars 
and when the land on the Chelmsford side of the river was occu- 
pied as far as it was convenient for the operatives to reside while 
employed in the mills, the land in CentralviUe was in demand 
for homes. In 1844 CentralviUe was so thickly settled that the 
roads on the hill leading up from Bridge street were laid out 
by the town and accepted. The village was beginning_ to assume 
the conditions of a city and demanded a fire engine and the 
formation of an engine company. Although in need of fire pro- 
tection the project was not favorably received and the article 
relating to it, which had been inserted in the warrant, was dis- 

In 1851 the inhabitants of the village petitioned the Legisla- 
ture to be annexed to Lowell. The petition was granted and the 

•The Saw pit was a deep hole in the river in the vicinity of the mouth 
of Beaver brook. 


lines defined as follows: "So much of the town of Dracut in 
the County of ^liddlesex as is commonly called Centralville thus 
bounded to wit. Beginning at the thread of Merrimack river 
near the foot of Hunts falls opposite the southeast comer of 
the land of the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals on Merri- 
mack river thence running north 19° 30' west to the margin of 
said river at said southeast comer bound thence in the same 
course northerly 3827 feet to the northerly side of the new 
County road leading from said county to Methuen thence North 
89° west 5270 feet to the margin of said river near the end of 
the wall opposite or near the head of Long Island thence westerly 
in a direct line to the thread of said river, then down said river 
by the thread thereof to the point of beginning. ' ' 

Contrarj- to the usual course, the town had given its consent 
to the division, January 20, 1851, by a vote of Yes, 126, No, 70. 
The east line of the part annexed to Lowell began at the river 
opposite a group of islands called Abbott's islands and from 
that point it ran to the northeast comer bound on Methuen 
street nearly one fourth of a mile eastward from Beacon street. 
From this corner it ran in a straight course reaching Bridge 
street, a few rods south of Richardson street, which it crossed 
diagonally to Hildreth street at the angle immediately south of 
the house formerly owned by "Warner Cobum. It reached Lake- 
view Avenue near its junction with Aiken avenue. The original 
size and shape of Long Island has been changed as that portion 
of the river between the avenue and the island has been filled 
and Aiken street now crosses it while the northerly end of Aiken 
street bridge rests on the island. The introduction of street cars 
again brought changes and was a further factor in the expansion 
of the city and the line was established which embraced more 
of Dracut territory. This change was made in 1874. The line 
extended from the northeast corner which was the original bound 
in 1851, which was on Methuen street and was carried over the 
top of the hiU east of and near the high service reservoir and 
through the Thomas Fay buildings to the present northeast 
comer on Willard Street south of the former town farm house. 
From this point running in a straight line it crosses Bridge street 
in the hollow below Dracut centre, and Hildreth street a few 
rods below Hovey square reaching Lakeview avenue near Bach- 


(Sec Page 387) 


man street. It crosses Riverside street between the tenement 
houses which were built by the Merrimack Woolen Co. and 
reaches the Mammoth road at Ledge hill continuing westward 
reaching the river at Scarlet's brook. In 1879 several hundred 
acres at the extreme southwesterly comer of the town were an- 
nexed to Lowell. 

The town has not favored these annexations and in 1873 an 
attempt was made to prevent the loss of more territory. A com- 
mittee was appointed to attend to the interests of the town and 
if not successful in defeating the arrangement they were to ad- 
vocate the annexation of the whole town. But the division was 
made and the lines drawTi as stated. In 1904 another attempt 
was made to annex more territory, which would include the Navy 
Yard village, Hovey square and Dracut centre, but it was 
strongly opposed and the project failed. 

The name Draycot is of ancient British origin, and in use long 
before the Roman conquest of B. C. 54. Until that time the 
country was occupied by many savage tribes of Britons who were 
almost continually at war with one another. Julius Caesar with 
his Roman soldiers were masters of the known world. They had 
subdued Gaul and the white cliffs of England across the channel 
seemed to reveal more countries to be conquered. The Britons 
were a courageous people and only yielded to the Romans after 
many years of fighting. Throughout the period of the Roman 
occupation, of the raid of the Picts and Scots, of the occupancy 
by the Saxons and Normans, the name survived, being spelled 
according to the manner of the language of the conquerors. This 
accounts in a measure for the different ways of spelling with 
which we meet in the ancient parish records. After the Norman 
conquest (1066) surnames became common and the name of the 
locality where a nobleman dwelt, or had his estate was often 
adopted for his surname. Among the followers of William the 
Conqueror was one of the Fitzanculph family called Lord Dra- 
cota. This Fitzanculph was afterward Baron Malbans and 
brother to Philip, whose son was Lord Dracota. This is re- 
corded in the early English record books and shows the existence 
of the name at a very early date. 

In 1322 the Scotch invaded England, and an order was given 
in Draycot and other towns for the people to assemble and be 


ready to follow their feudal lords to war. This order was read 
in Draycot church. In 1086 by order of William the Conqueror 
the Domesday Book was written in which was recorded the sur- 
vey of a great part of the landed estate of England. The name 
in this old book is spelled in different ways according to the lo- 
cality of the town. Draycott in Cheddar, Somersetshire, was 
spelled in the record to which reference was made, Dracota, also 
Dracotta. The Saxon owner was Godewinns or Goodwin. Dray- 
cot in Lj'mington, near Bath, and Wells, Somersetshire, was 
spelled Dracota, the Saxon owner being Alwe. Draycot-Poliot 
and Draycot-Cerne, the last being in Wiltshire were respectively 
Dracote, Saxon owner Levenot, and Draicote, Saxon owner 
Edrie. A brief mention of an early charter may be of interest 
to lovers of ancient history. 


"William Malbant grants to Hugh, son of Nicholas de 
Draycot and his heirs Draycote, Cunshall, Newton and Leye 
(Leigh) and also a salting (a saltmarsh) in Wich-Cheshire, 
Circa A. D. 1160." 

In Staffordshire, William Malbane held, with other places, 
Draycote-le-Moors. The name Draycot is a corruption of Tre- 
Cord which means town in the woods. Tre or Dor meaning 
town and cord meaning woods. 

As Dracut in America bore an honorable part in the 
struggle for liberty and freedom from British oppression in the 
Revolution, so Draycot in Staffordshire, more than 130 years 
previous to the time of securing our independence, furnished 
soldiers who fought for Charles I against Cromwell in 1664, but 
in this case they were on the side that met defeat. Richard 
Draycot, the name having become a family name, retired to 
Paynerley Hall, which he fortified, as was the custom, and sur- 
rounded it with three moats ; but resistance though stubborn, 
was in vain, the castle was demolished and when peace was re- 
stored a brick building was erected on the site. 

Like many other proper names the name in this country 
may be found spelled in different ways. Drawcutt was a common 
way of spelling the name in the early days, while we find in 


the records of Chelmsford the name is spelled Draw Cut. In 
a transference of property under date of 1665 the name is re- 
corded as Drawcutt alias Augumtoocook. The substance of the 
transfer wiU appear in the chapter on Indian History. The 
earliest mention of the name as applied to this town is in a 
transfer from John Evered alias Webb to Samuel Varnum and 
Richard Shatswell "1100 acres in Drawcutt on Merrimack 
River," January 10, 1665. 


AS we study the formation of the earth with its hills and 
valleys, its rocks and streams, too often we are led to think 
that its present condition has existed since the creation. 

But we are taught that since the planet called the Earth 
assumed its present globular form there have been stupendous 
changes. Mountain ranges have been upheaved, continents have 
been submerged by the ocean, the land, now the site of large 
cities, was once the bed of the sea, and the changes that are 
taking place are continuous, but so slight as the centuries pass 
away, that in the short space of time allotted to us as indi\'iduals 
we are unable to detect them. Uncounted ages have passed away 
since the light of the sun shone through the firemist that filled 
the space which we now call the solar system and the earth began 
to take its form. Man takes note only of days, months or moons, 
years and centuries. 

Of the vast periods which he calls ages, cycles and eons he 
has but faint conception. Scientists have divided geologic time 
into five great eras or periods. The earliest is the Archaezoic, 
then in their order, the Proterozoie, Paleozoic, Mesozoic and the 
present or Cenozoic. During the last named period, and before 
the advent of man, came the age of glaciers, of which this chapter 
treats. To explain the meaning of the glacial period we may 
consider it as one long winter of thousands of years, during 
which time the ice and snow accumulated until it covered nearly 
all of the northern hemisphere. Exact data relating to depth 
cannot be obtained, some estimating the thickness of the ice at 
300 feet, others placing it at half a mile. 

This great ice sheet travelled slowly south and after the 
passing of this age-long winter, thousands of years of gradually 
increasing warmth succeeded and the present condition was the 
result. In proof of the existence in the middle states of a former 
tropical climate we may refer to the immense coal formations 


produced by the submergence of the land and the consequent 
burial of gigantic ferns and tropical trees which could have 
flourished only in a tropical heat. We quote from the Century 
Book of facts : ' ' Geologists are generally agreed that long before 
the advent of man, parts of the northern hemisphere were ele- 
vated several thousand feet higher than they are at present, 
causing the cold of the Arctic Zone to extend far southward into 
present temperate regions and that a vast glacier rising in the 
vicinity of Hudson Bay covered the American Continent north 
of the 40th parallel. The loose soil that covers so large a part 
of the surface of the northern continent to a depth varying from 
30 to 100 feet over which lie the deposits of later ages, is con- 
sidered by geologists the effects of glaciers that, in the quarter- 
nary or latest geological age, slowly moved southward across 
the country." 

Having in a general way stated the facts relating to the 
glacial period, we will consider first the effect of the changes 
produced in the ponds and rivers. 

The Merrimack River has been a great factor in the de- 
velopment of the town of Dracut. On account of its existence 
on the south and west, the population of the town has increased 
by the establishment of factories in Lowell, by the founding of 
cities of Lowell and Lawrence which afford a market for farm 
produce, and by providing an outlet for the brooks on whose 
falls are placed the mills which add to the prosperity of the 

During the early part of the last century the river provided 
for the transportation, by rafts, of lumber to the ship building 
yards of Newburyport, and, iintil a dam was built across the 
river, the fish that came up the river at certain seasons of the 
year assisted materially in providing food for the family and as 
a medium of exchange for the necessaries of life. Before the 
glacial period the river flowed in a southerly course, reaching the 
sea near Boston. The Middlesex canal when built, followed the 
course of the river and while excavations were being made, indi- 
cations of the river bed of pre-glacial times were found. 

In Prof. Shaler's "Aspects of the Earth" we read: "Dur- 
ing the last glacial period the old river valleys were to a great 
degree worn away and the remaining portion of these troughs 


was to a considerable extent buried beneath a thick coating of 
debris which the ice had worn from the surface of the land and 
dropped upon that surface as it retreated. The result is that 
in all countries which were affected by the last glacial period the 
river valleys have only here and there returned to their ancient 
beds. Ever since the ice went away they have been engaged in a 
struggle to restore their ruined ways. * * * We see a simple 
indication of this confusion of the old drainage, brought about 
by glacial action, in the vast number of lakes lodged within 
depressions of the surface in New England as well as in all parts 
of the glaciated district. We have only to compare the valley 
of such a stream as the James River which lies south of the 
glacial belt with a New England valley such as that of the Merri- 
mack to see the importance of the effects accomplished by a 
glacial sheet on the river system. The valley of the James is 
entirely without lakes, every part of its area slopes downward 
toward the sea. In the valley of the Merrimack there are hun- 
dreds of these water basins. A very large part of its surface is 
occupied by lakes which owe their origin to irregularities of the 
surface produced by the last glacial period." 

"We also quote from Fox's "History of Dunstable": "The 
valleys of the Merrimack are of alluvial formation. That they 
have undergone great changes is very evident. Their general 
appearance, the shape of their basins, their outlets, their different 
levels and the stratified character of the soil, all show that at some 
remote period the greater portion of these valleys must have been 
covered with water in the form of lakes or large ponds. But 
whatever may have been their origin, it is evident that the valley 
of the Merrimack was once a succession of lakes, one ending at 
Pawtucket Palls and another at Amoskeag Falls, through whose 
rocky basins the M^aters at length burst their way and formed 
their present lower channel leaving their former beds dry. ' ' 

There is no indication that the river above Lowell was ma- 
terially deflected from its course, but there is abundant proof 
of the existence of one of these many lakes where Lowell and 
some parts of Dracut now exist. Fox only mentions two, but 
other writers call them a chain of lakes reaching far up into 
New Hampshire. As the river became obstructed, the hills about 
Dracut and vicinity caused a lake to be formed which gradually 


rose until a depression in the surrounding ridge allowed it to 
overflow. This was some spot on Dracut heights near Indian 
Orchard or lower down at Deer jump. Gradually overflowing, 
it in time cut a new channel by way of what is now Lawrence 
and Haverhill, to the sea. 

An examination of the river in the vicinity named will show 
the soil to consist of glacial drift. For centuries the overflow of 
the lake was counterbalanced by the supply received from the 
overflow of lakes at the north, but the bed of the river being com- 
posed of loose soil and no ledge being present, the channel in- 
creased in depth and consequently the water in the lake was 
gradually lowered until the present rocky bed was reached. 
The electric road from Lowell to Lawrence is constructed in an 
ancient bed of the river which may be seen in Dracut and 
Methuen. The former banks are supported a part of the distance 
by retaining walls. The marks of the high water of the lake were 
plainly visible on the rocks at the Fletcher Street Ledge until 
recently, when by excavations they were lost. The large boulders 
now lying in the river were left when the loose soil was washed 
away. A considerable area of the lake still remains and forms 
the pond above Aiken Street bridge. The ledge at Hunts falls 
below the mouth of the Concord River is an obstruction which 
prevents further drainage. All streams show evidences of having 
a larger volume of water than at present and the Merrimack is 
not an exception. An old river bank may be seen between the 
river and Lakeview Avenue. Much of this old bank has been 
removed but it can be traced opposite the Reed estate, while the 
old river birches growing between this bank and the present 
limits of the river are proof of the years that have passed away 
since its formation. The ponds which exist at the borders of the 
town owe their formation to the glacial period. They occupy 
the depressions of the land and their existence is due to the inflow 
of streams which are prevented from causing an overflow by 
drainage and evaporation. 

We will consider secondly the efi'ects of the glacial move- 
ment on the land. The changes in the contour of the land were 
as remarkable as those pertaining to the rivers and ponds. As 
the tremendous weight of the ice sheet moved south and passed 
over hills and mountain ranges, it carried along billions of tons 


of earth and rocks. These immense boulders, enclosed in the 
ice, scraped the surface, levelling the hills and filling the streams 
and valleys. As it crossed ledges it plowed furrows in the rocks, 
which show the direction of the movement of the mighty mass. 
All glacial drift contains boulders, cobblestones and pebbles in 
a rounded form. This is caused by the rolling over and over of 
these stones and thus they lose their sharp angles. 

In one of the New Hampshire towns may be seen a large 
rock from which a piece has been broken, while in Connecticut 
the broken part has been found. Butterfield's Rock in Windham, 
N. H., which is as large as a small cottage, and which lies upside 
down on a ledge which is composed of a different kind of stone, 
is a proof of the irresistible power of a glacier when in motion. 
In what is now the under part of this rock a large "pothole" 
may be seen. For many years the peculiar form of the hills and 
ridges of New England remained a mystery. When examined 
by Prof. Agassiz, he pronounced them to be the product of the 
glacial period. 

Dracut abounds in evidences of the ice age. The movement 
of the ice tended to the levelling of hills and filling of valleys, 
and if the great ice sheet had receded in the manner in which it 
advanced, we should have level plains unbroken by valleys except 
where great masses of rock, which form the ledges, stood bare and 
desolate. But after centuries of grinding and scraping, the tem- 
perature of the air gradually rose and streams formed by the 
melting of ice began to cut channels in the mass. By the action 
of the water the more soluble matter was carried away, leaving 
sand, pebbles, gravel, boulders and whatever was insoluble, and 
when in course of time these rivers reached the ground, the sand 
and pebbles were deposited in ridges of different heights and 
lengths. These are called kames in Scotland, eskers in Ireland, 
and osars in Sweden. Their general direction is southerly, but 
not all directly north and south. 

In east Dracut, a short distance north of the nickel mine, 
there may be seen an esker running from northwest to southeast 
about fifteen feet in height, with steep sides not unlike the roof 
of a house. It may be found, but not so well defined, on the 
north side of the road leading from Burns' Hill to Methuen and 
near the residence of Franklin C. Wilson. On the eastward of 


the nickel mine hill this esker forms a V-shaped junction with 
another esker which comes from the direction of the Methuen 
line. From the junction, it pursues a course towards the river. 

Another esker starts from near the site of the paper mill 
above Parker Avenue and at Meadow bridge is cut through by 
Beaver Brook, but on the south side of the stream it runs south 
near the Merrimack Woolen mills, forming the high hills which 
a few years ago could be seen as a bluft" which was occupied by 
the buildings called New England. This ridge loses its identity 
before it reaches the outlet of Beaver Brook. Another esker 
starts at Meadow Bridge and taking a course parallel with the 
one last named is crossed by Pond Street and is very easily traced 
south of th« cemetery and, following Riverside Street, is also lost 
before reaching the river. A fourth esker commences at New 
Boston cemetery and continuing in a southwesterly direction is 
joined by another in New Boston village lying northwest of Rock- 
wood D. Coburn's house. These crossing the New Boston road 
are cut through by Lakeview Avenue at H. Jesse Coburn's 
house. South of this point Beaver Brook has cut a channel across 
it and it continues to the Old Meadow Road near its j\mction 
with the electric car track. At Ward's ledge it disappears, but 
reappears on the west side of the Mammoth road near Tolman 
Avenue. This ridge has been changed bj^ the carting away of 
sand and gravel, leaving the rounded boulders in great heaps. 
It reaches Varnum Avenue near Brookside Street. It appears 
on the south side of the river near Rolfe Street and continues 

The material comprising these eskers when screened is of 
excellent quality for mixing with lime or cement for building 
purposes, and these hills which have been undisturbed for cen- 
turies are fast disappearing. The coarser material is used largely 
by road builders. The rocks are so small that no blasting is re- 
quired to prepare them for the crusher. There is quite a differ- 
ence in the composition of the material of which these ridges 
are composed. Near Beaver Brook sand predominates, while as 
the vicinity of the river is reached the proportion of gravel and 
boulders increases. Near Pleasant and Riverside Streets there 
are large boulders which were imbedded in the sand which was 
deposited there centuries ago. 


Eastward of the nickel mine on the farm of the late Theodore 
Parker are moraines. These are glacial debris, sometimes in 
ridges where the ice has plowed its way through or between hills 
and left sand, gravel and boulders on each side of its course, or 
again where the glacier has melted and leaves the mass in vast 
heaps known as terminal moraines. One of these reaches the 
river near Deer Jump. 

The glacial deposit may take still another form known as 
drumlins. These are hills of circular or oval shape and are of 
earlier construction than the eskers. Huckleberry or Whortle- 
berry Hill near Lake Mascuppic, and Poplar Hill near North 
Pond at the northeast corner of the town, are the two highest 
and largest drumlins in Dracut. Then Christian Hill, Town 
Farm Hill and Loon, or Malones Hill, rank next in size. At the 
southeastern part of the town, near the Lawrence electric car 
track there are remarkable specimens of these drumlins. Thy 
are conical and their sides are very steep. In the extreme 
eastern part there is a range of these hills reaching from the 
river to Pelham line. 

Miss Harriet Rea of Lowell, who has given much study to 
local geology in an article published a few years ago, says: 
"Boston Harbor not only affords a delightful sail at this season 
of the year, but is a place of geological interest. How many have 
ever noticed the peculiar shape of its islands? Breeds Island, 
Apple Island, Deer Island, Long Island, Wiuthrop, Fort Warren, 
Fort Independence and others are all alike in their physical 
features. The outlines are oval. The trend of the islands is 
from northwest to southeast. There is a longer slope on the east 
than on the west side. They are beautiful in their soft, fresh 
verdure, but one instantly exclaims 'Why are they all made 
from the same pattern ? ' These islands are drumlins like our own 
Fort Hill, left by the glacier when the ice and cold retreated 
from Boston Harbor. During the glacial period * * * the ice 
like that of Greenland must have been of greath depth and took 
possession of this part of our country. Boston Harbor existed 
before the glacier, but the ice she?t filled it up. When a warmer 
climate returned and the ice began to melt and the streams to 
flow, masses of earth, glacial drift and gravel were left in the 
peculiar form now called drumlins. They are packed so hard 


and solid that an engineer will tell you that he would about as 
soon cut the solid rock through as some of these formations. 
They never consist of rock like ordinary hiUs or mountains, but 
are always formed of glacial drift. Why or how such peculiar 
shapes come to exist is open to conjecture or research." 

In the region west of the cross road from the Methuen road 
to the Varnum Cemetery, thej- are thicklj- strewn and of various 
sizes. From Dracut Center west to the Navy Yard Village, they 
are not noticeable. Above New Boston Village and reaching up 
into Pelham, there are large numbers of these drumlins. They 
present a peculiar appearance in that locality as they may be 
seen as circular hiUs of sand rising abruptly from the meadows 
and swamps. The largest of these are known as Captain Bill's 
island and the Gil island. They are more numerous in West 
Dracut, the most prominent being the one on which stands the 
Lowell General Hospital, now in Lowell. Huckleberry and Pop- 
lar hills, to which reference has been made, are called twin hills. 
They are formed in pairs having two summits. This feature has 
been observed by travellers in other parts of the country and is 
the result of a law of nature of which we are ignorant. Third, the 
effect of glacial action on the surface of the earth. 

Prof. Shaler says : ' ' One naturally asks what was the use of 
the engine set at work ages ago to grind, furrow and knead over 
as it were, the surface of the earth. We have our answer in the 
fertile soil which spreads over the temperate region of the globe. 
The glacier was God's great plow * * * The hard surface of the 
rocks was ground to powder; the elements of the soil were 
mingled in fair proportion with the more arid and unproductive 
districts, and a soil was prepared fit for agricultural uses of 

The debris from the north which was deposited on the sur- 
face of the land contained much matter which was suitable for 
the subsoil and wherever so deposited may be found our most 
fertile fields. Eskers and drumlins have remained uncultivated 
as the richer elements were dissolved. The rich, black soil from 
which the grasses and plants derive their sustenance is the 
product of vegetable and animal matter, which has been deposited 
and has decayed since the glacial period. The tendency of the 
ice was to level all uneven siirfaces. The height of the moun- 


tains at the north was greatly reduced and their contents spread 
over the surface of the country. As it passed over Dracut and 
Tewksbury, it left the surface level. In proof of this there are 
the high banks of the Merrimack River between Centralville and 
the Methuen line. Before the drainage of the lake began, the 
chasm through which the river flows was a solid mass of glacial 
drift. The overflow of the rim of the bowl which formed the 
lake, and the action of the water of the river produced the pres- 
ent gorge. The only obstruction to this tremendous force was 
the solid ledges. 

In Centralville just north of the Henry Reed estate there 
existed a ledge, the north side of which was precipitous and as 
the mass of ice and gravel moved south and reached this ledge 
the space on the north side was filled, forming the hill on which 
the First Congregational Church building stands and over which 
Orleans street has been constructed. The greater part of the 
Navy Yard Village was a deep vaUey which became filled with 
sand. Its depth is not known, as excavations thirty feet in depth 
have been made without reaching the preglacial surface. In 
1862, when the wooden mill was demolished and the foundations 
of a new one were being prepared, it was necessary to drive piles 
into the ground to a great depth until the original bed rock was 
reached, as the glacial drift was unsuitable for foundations. 

A stroll through any part of the to\vn will reveal the fact 
that Dracut abounds in evidences of the ice age of many thou- 
sand years ago, but for this work a single walk must suffice. 
Starting at the little brook called Tanhouse brook which flows 
through the Navy Yard village and proceeding west the under- 
lying ledge is thickly strewn with boulders unearthed by road 
builders and pipe layers. Descending by way of "Waldo street 
the lake bed forms the low land about Parker Avenue. Continu- 
ing through a footpath on the bank above the Paper mill dam 
there may be seen a large rock deposited by glacial movement. 
Just before reaching Meadow bridge a large drumlin has been 
formed, while in the bed of the stream there are large boulders 
which were left when the lighter materials were carried to the 
ocean. On the south side of the stream are the eskers, one of 
which is known as Mayhill. Pond street has an abundance of 
glacial boulders of all sizes which may be known by their rounded 


edges. On the right before reaching the car track at Moody 
street is a drumlin, while running in a northeasterly direction 
there were, until recently, long, high eskers, but they have nearly 
disappeared, carried away for commercial purposes. Proceeding 
west from the turnout at the electric road there are huge boulders 
resembling groups of elephants, many of them rent asunder by 
the presence of water in the seams which congealed and caused 
them to divide. Such manifestations as these are proof of the 
stupendous power of the movement of the ice centuries ago. No 
data has been discovered by which we can reckon the centuries 
which have passed since these masses were deposited. Geologists 
reckon the time to be between twenty thousand and fifty thou- 
sand years ago. 


Dracut at Pawtucket Falls 
By Joseph M. Wilson 

THE Indian history of Dracut at Pawtucket Palls all centers 
around Passaconaway, "The Child of the Bear," last chief 
of the Stone Age. Daniel Gookin, the Indian magistrate, writes 
that "The Ancient and Capital Seat" of the Merrimack VaUey 
Indians was at Pawtucket Falls. 

This site as evidenced by the stone implements and orna- 
ments now in possession of the Lowell Historical Society, was 
where the Lowell Textile School now stands, for from this spot 
and the glacial drumlin, adjoining, used by the Indians as their 
fort, these relics were gathered by a descendant of the Varnums. 

We first hear of Passaconaway in history in 1627. Thomas 
Morton, being in this country at this time, thus writes of him 
in his "New English Canaan": " Papasiquineo the Sachem or 
Sagamore of the territories near Merrimack River, a man of the 
best note in all those parts (and as my countryman, Mr. Wood, 
declares in his prospect) a great nigromancer. That Sachem 
or Sagamore is a Powah of greate estimation amongst all kinde 
of Salvages then hee at their Revels (which is the time when a 
greate company of Salvages meete from severall partes of the 
Countre in amity with the neighbors) hath advanced his honor 
in his feats or jugling tricks to the admiration of the spectators 
whom hee endeavored to persuade that hee would go under the 
water to the further side of the river to broade for any man to 
undertake with a breath which thing he performed by swimming 
over and deluding the company with casting a mist before their 
eyes that see him enter in and come out; but no part of the way 
hee has bin scene; likewise by our English in the heat of all 
summer to make Ice in a bowl of faire water first having the 
water set before him hath begun his incantation according to 


their usual accustom and before the same has been ended a thick 
cloude has darkened the aire and on a sudane a thunder clap 
hath bin heard that has amazed the natives; in an instant hee 
hath showed a firme peace of Ice to floate in the midste of the 
bowle in the presence of the vulgar people which was doubtless 
done by the agility of Satan his consort." 

C. E. Potter, historian of Manchester, N. H., comments on 
this as follows: "From which marvellous story we are to infer 
that Passaconaway to the character of a brave warrior added that 
of a clever juggler. In fact he held his people in great awe of 
him, the Indians supposing him to have supernatural power; to 
have control over their destinies ; that he could make a dry leaf 
turn green ; water burn, and then turn to ice, and could take the 
rattlesnake in his hand with impunity. With such reputed 
power and wisdom as a Sagamore, Passaconaway was the ac- 
knowledged head of the most powerful Indian confederacy east 
of the Mohawks and as such received the title of Bashaba, a 
title of much the same import as that of Emperor." 

In 1627, when Morton wrote, Passaconaway was Chief Saga- 
more of the Pawtuckets, Penacooks, Wamesits, Nashuas, Sou- 
hegan, Namoskeages, Winnepesaukees, Ossipees, Pemmgwassetts, 
Coosukes, Pequakes, Sacos, Piscataques, Newichewannocks, Aga- 
wams, Wauchusetts, and Massachusetts which divisions were 
similar to the Clans of Scotland. 

The welcome to and confidence in the English by Passa- 
conoway is shown in a deed from the Indians to John Wheel- 
wright and his associates dated the 17th day of May, 1629 : 

"At a general meeting of Indians at Squamscott Falls, 
Passaconaway, Sagamore of Pawtucket; Gunnaawitt of Pen- 
tucket; Wahangnonawit of Squamscott and Rowle of Newich- 
wannock expressed their desire to have the English come and 
settle among them as among their countrymen in Massachusetts 
whereby they hope to be strengthened against their enemies the 
Tarranteens, and accordingly with the universal consent of their 
subjects for what they deemed a valuable consideration in coats, 
shirts, and kettles sell to John Wheelwright of the Massachusetts 
Bay, Augustin Story, Thomas Wright, William Wentworth, and 
Thomas Leavit all that part of the main land bounded by the 


river Pascatqua and the river Merrimack to begin at Newich- 
wannoek Palls in Pascatqua river aforesaid and down said river 
to the sea and along the sea shore to Merrimack River, and up 
said river to the falls at Pawtucket, and from thence upon a 
northwest line twenty English miles into the woods; and from 
thence upon a straight line northeast till it meet with the main 
rivers that run down to Pawtucket falls and Newichwannock 
falls aforesaid, the said rivers to be the bounds from the thwart 
or head line to the aforesaid falls and from thence the main 
channel of each to the sea to be the side bounds; together with 
all the islands within the said bounds ; and also the isle of shoals 
so called. The conditions of this grant were that Wheehvright 
should within ten years begin a plantation at Squamscott falls; 
that other inhabitants should have the same privilege with him ; 
that no plantation should exceed ten miles square ; that no lands 
should be granted but in townships; and that these should be 
subject to the government of the Massachusetts Colony until they 
should have settled a government among themselves; that for 
each township they should be paid an annual acknowledgment 
of one coat of trucking cloth to Passaconaway, the chief Saga- 
more, or his successors and two bushels of Indian corn to Wheel- 
wright and his heirs. The Indians reserved to themselves free 
liberty of fishing, fowling, hunting and planting within these 
limits. The principal persons of Pascatqua and the province of 
Maine were the witnesses to the subscribing of this instrument 
and giving possession of the lands." 

We next come to the Indian deed of HaverhiU in which 
Passaconaway is again recognized as Chief Sagamore of the 
Merrimack Valley Indians: 

Passaquo & Sagga Hen with the consent of Passaconaway have 
sold unto the inhabitents of Pentucket all ye lande we have in 
Pentucket that is eight miles in length from ye little river in 
Pentucket, Westward six miles in length from ye aforesaid river ; 
Eastward with ye Islands and the river that ye islands stand 
in as far in length as ye land lays by as formerly expresses that 
is fourteen miles in length, and we, ye said Passaquo & Sagga 


Hen with ye consent of Passaeonaway have sold unto ye said 
Inhabitants all ye right to that we or any of us have in ye said 
ground & Islands & Rivers. And we warrant against all or any 
other Indians whatsoever unto ye said Inhabitants of Pentucket 
to their heirs and assigns forever. Dated ye fifteenth day of 
November Anno Dom. 1642. 

WITNESS our hands and seals to this bargain of sale ye 
day and year above written (in ye presence of us) we ye said 
Passaquo & Sagga Hen received in hand for and in consideration 
of ye same three pounds & ten shillings. 

John Ward 
Robert Clement 
Tristiam Coffin 
Hugh Sherritt 
William White 
The sign of 
Thomas Davis 
X The Mark of Passaquo 
X The mark of Sagga Hen." 

We next come to a treaty with Passaeonaway as Chief Saga- 
more of the Merrimack Valley Indians : 

"At a general Court held in Boston the 12th day of the 
fourth month (June) 1644. 

Passaeonaway, Nahanancommoek did voluntariUe submit 
themselves to us as appareth by their covenant subscribed by 
their own hands heire foUowiug & other articles to wch they con- 
sented. We have & doe by theise presents voluntarily & without 
any constraint or persuasion but of our own free motion put our- 
selves our subjects Lands and estates under the Goverment and 
protected by them according to their just laws and order so far 
as we shall be made capable of understanding them. And we 
doe promise for ourselves & and all out- subjects to all our pos- 
teritie to be true and faithful to the said Govrmt. & ayding to 
the maintenance thereof to our best abilitie and from tyme to 
tyme to give speedy notice of any conspiracie attempt or evil 
intention of any which we shall know or heare of against the 
same and we doe promise to be willing from tyme to tyme to be 


instructed in the knowledge and worship of God. In witness 
whereof wee have heerento put our hands the day and year above 
written. ' ' 

Charles Cowley writes in his "Memories of the Indians and 
Pioneers of the Region of Lowell" : 

On the part of the Indians every stipulation in their in- 
strument was faithfully kept and performed. Would that the 
same praise could be awarded to the whites. History must weep 
to relate that within twenty years from the date of this treaty 
of submission, Passaconaway was reduced to the condition of a 
pai;per, a stranger in the land of his fathers, dependent for his 
subsistence on the cold charity of those who had dispossessed him 
of his native soil. 

In 1642, upon suspicion that a conspiracy was forming 
among the Indians to destroy the English, forty men were sent 
out to arrest Passaconaway, but he escaped by reason of a storm, 
but his son Wannalancit was taken and they barbarously led 
him with a rope which he loosened and tried to escape. His cap- 
tors fired at him and came near hitting him, and he was retaken 
and imprisoned at Boston. For this outrage the government of 
Massachusetts feared the just resentment of Passaconaway and 
they sent Cutshamekin whom they had arrested upon the same 
occasion and had discharged to excuse the matter to the old Chief 
and invited him to go to Boston and hold a conference with 
them. The answer of the old Sagamore showed an independent 
spirit: "Tell the English when they restore my son and his squaw 
then will I talk with them." This outrage upon the family of 
Passaconaway must have made a deep impression upon his mind 
and led him to doubt the sincerity of the professions of the Eng- 
lish toward him, and in 1647 he exhibited this distrust in a 
forcible manner. At this time the Rev. Mr. Eliot for the first 
time came to Pawtucket Falls for the purpose of preaching to 
the natives. It was the fishing season, and a vast number of 
Indians were present. Among them was Passaconaway with two 
of his sons. The old Chief refused to see Mr. Eliot and retired 
immediately from the neighborhood taking with him his sons 
saying "he was afraid the English would kill him." 



In 1648, Mr. Eliot came again to Pawtucket as usual at 
the fishing season, and the Old Sagamore had become convinced 
of his sincere friendship and heard him gladly. Mr. Eliot 
preached to the assembled Indians from Malachi I ; XI. This 
verse he paraphrased thus: "From the rising of the sun to the 
going down of the same Thy name shall be great among the 
Indians; and in every place prayer shall be made to Thy name, 
pure prayer, for Thy name shall be great among the Indians." 

The Indians paid the closest attention and after the dis- 
course proposed many appropriate and amusing questions. 
Afterwards Passaconaway arose and amid the most profound at- 
tention announced his belief in the God of the English. He 
remarked, says Mr. Elliot in a letter of date of Nov. 12, 1648 
"That indeed he had never prayed unto God as yet for he had 
never heard of God before as now he doth and that he did believe 
what I taught them to be true. And for his own part he was 
purposed in his heart from thenceforth to pray unto God and 
that hee would persuade all his sonnes to doe the same pointing 
to two of them who were there present and naming such as were 
absent. ' ' 

In 1652 Passaconaway furnished several of his Indians as 
guides to a committee of the General Court attended by Jonathan 
Ince and John Sherman, surveyors, to find the most northerly 
bound of the Merrimack River. The Indians had told them it 
was at Aquedoehtan, the outlet of Lake Winnepesaukee. On 
their return they reported as follows: 

The answer of John Sherman, Sergt. at Watertown, and 
Jonathan Ince, student at Harvard College, in Cambridge, to 
Captain Simon WilUard and Capt. Edward Johnson, Com- 
missioners of the General Court held at Boston May 27th, 1652, 
concerning the latitude of the northernmost part of Merrimack 
River : 

"Whereas wee, John Sherman and Jonathan Ince, were pro- 
cured by the aforesaid Commissioners to take the latitude of 
the place above named; Our answer is that at Aquedahcan the 
name of the head of the Merrimack where it issues out of the 
Lake called Winnapusseait upon the first day of August, one 
thousand six hundred and fifty two, wee observed and by obser- 
vation found that the latitude of the place was forty three de- 


grees forty minutes and twelve seconds beside those minutes 
which are to be allowed for the three miles more north weh run 
into the Lake. In witness whereof wee have subscribed our 
names this nineteenth da3^ of October one thousand six hundred 

John Endicott, Siibi. 
John Sherman, 
Jonathan Inge." 

In a letter of Oct. 29, 1649, Mr. Eliot writes: "Passacona- 
way, the Great Sachem of all the tribes that dwell in the valley 
of the Merrimack did exceeding earnestly and importunately in- 
vite me to come and live at his place and teach them. We used 
many arguments : this was one, that my coming once a year did 
them but little good because they soon forgot what I had taught. 
You do as if one should come and throw a fine thing among us 
and we should catch at it earnestly because it appears so beauti- 
ful, but cannot look at it to see what is within ; there may be in 
it something or nothing, a stick or a stone or precious treasure ; 
but if it be opened and we see what is valuable therein then we 
think much of it. So you tell us of religion and we like it very 
well at first sight but we know not what is within; it may be 
excellent or it may be nothing — we cannot tell ; but if you will 
stay with us and open it to us and show us all within we shall 
believe it to be as good as you say it is." 

Eliot afterwards complied with the earnest invitation of 
Passaconaway in that he writes, which Gookin confirms, that he 
established schools and preaching at Nahamkeage and later Mag- 
istrate Daniel Gookin his Indian Court, the old building of 
which is still standing. This then was in the wilderness and ac- 
knowledged to be the Indians' own land up to the military 
grant to John Evered and associates. After Magistrate Daniel 
Gookin came Magistrate Jonathan Tyng. The Indian and Colo- 
nial Court building was afterwards used as a Tavern, the 
Court Room becoming a dance hall. During King Philip's war 
it was palisaded and used as a garrison by Edward Coburn 
and sons. 

We now come to the appropriation of an opening up of 
the wilderness in this military grant to members of the Ancient 
and Honorable Company. 


At the time of this military grant Namamocomuck, the 
oldest son of Passaconaway was imprisoned in Boston for a debt 
due from another Indian to one John Tinker and for which he 
had become responsible. In order to raise the money to pay the 
debt and charges the Indians petitioned the Court for the right 
to sell the Island of "Wickasauke. " The Court gave permission 
to sell it as follows: 

"lAceiise for Indians to sell an Island. Whereas this Court 
is informed yt Pesaconaway 's sonne now in prision as surety for 
ye payment of a debt of forty five pounds or thereabouts and 
having nothing to pay but affirme that severall Indians now in 
possession of a small Island in Merrimack River (about sixty 
acres) the half whereof is broken up ; are willing after this next 
yeares use of their sayd Island to sell theire Interest in ye said 
Island to whoever will purchase it and so to redeem the sayd 
Pesaconaway 's sonne out of prison. The magistrates are willing 
to allow the sayd Indians liberty to sell ye sayd Island to En- 
signe Jno. Evered as they and he can agree for ye ends afore- 
said. If their brethren the deputys consent hereto. 

"Nov. 8th, 1659. The deputys consent hereto provided the 
Indians have liberty to sell the sd. Island to him that will give 
most for it. 

Consented to by ye magistrate. 

Edw. Rawson, Secy. 
June 7th, 1659. 

"Laid out to Left. Peter Oliver, Capt. James Oliver, Capt. 
James Johnson and Ensigne John Evered one thousand ace. of 
land ; in ye wilderness on ye northerne side of Merrimack River ; 
Lying about Nahamkeage being bounded with Merrimack Riv. 
on ye south and on ye west; the wildemesse elsewher surround- 
ing according to marked trees ; as bye a plott taken of the sam.e 
is demonstrated. 

By Jonathan Danfoeth, Surveyr 

The deputies approve of this returne with reference to the 
consent of or Honnrd. Magists. hereto. 

William Torky, Cleric. 

Consented to by ye magist. 

Edw. Rawson, Seere'ty." 


Up to this time all the wilderness north of the Merrimack 
belonged to Passaconaway and his tribes and seeing by this 
grant that the English were going to claim it all without con- 
sidering his or their rights, the follo«-ing spring at a great gath- 
ering of the Indians during the fishing season at Pawtucket falls, 
he abdicated his office as head of the nation and prophesied their 
extinction in the following speech as reported by an Englishman 
present : 

' ' Hearken to the words of your father. I am an old oak that 
has withstood the storms of more than an hundred winters. 
Leaves and branches have been stripped from me by the winds 
and frosts — my eyes are dim — my Umbs totter — I must soon 
fall ! But when a young man and sturdy, when my bow — no 
young man of the Pawtuekets could bend it — when my arrows 
would pierce a deer at an hundred yards — and I could bury 
my hatchet in a sapling to the eyes — no weekwam had so many 
furs — no pole so many scalp locks as Passaconaway ! Then I 
delighted in war. The whoop of the Pawtuekets was heard when 
the Mohawks came — and no voice so loud as Passaconaway 's. 
The scalps upon the pole of my weekwam told the story of Mo- 
hawk suffering. The English came, they seized our lands ; I set 
me down at Pa\vtucket. They fought with fire and thunder, my 
young men were swept down before me when no one was near 
them. I tried sorcery against them but still they increased and 
prevailed over me and mind, and I gave place to them, I that 
can make the dry leaf turn green again. I who have had com- 
munion with the Great Spirit dreaming and awake — I am 
powerless before the Pale Faces. The oak will soon break before 
the whirlwind — it shivers and shakes even now; soon its trunk 
will be prostrate, the ant and the worm wiU sport upon it. Then 
think, my children, of what I say; I commune with the Great 
Spirit. He whispers to me now — Tell your people Peace Peace 
is the only hope of your race. I have given fire and thunder to 
the pale faces for weapons — I have made them plentier than 
the leaves of the forest and still shall they increase; these 
meadows shall they turn with the plow — these forests shall fall 
by the axe — the pale faces shall live upon your hunting grounds 
and make their villages upon your fishing places. The Great 


Spirit says this, and it must be so. We are few and powerless 
before them. We must bend before the storm; the wind blows 
hard; the old oak trembles; its branches are gone; its sap is 
frozen ; it bends ; it falls ! Peace, Peace with the white men — 
is the command of the Great Spirit — and the wish — the last 
wish of Passaconaway. " 

In 1665 the Indians petitioned the Governor and Court as 
follows : 

"To the Worshipful Richard Bellingham, Esq., Gov., and 
to the rest of the Honord Jeuerall Court. The petition of us 
poore neibor Indians whose names are hereunto subscribed 
humbly sheweth that whereas Indians severall years since we 
yr. petits. out of pity and compassion to our pore brother and 
countreraan to redeem out of prision and bondage whose name 
is Nanamocomuek, the eldest son of Passaconewa who was east 
into prison for a debt of another Indian unto John Tinker for 
which he gave his word ; the redemption of whome did cost us 
our desirable posetions where we and ours had and did hope to 
enjoy our Livelihood for ourselves and posterity; namely an 
Island on Merrimack River called by the name of Wieomke which 
was purchased by Mr. John Web, who hath curtiously given us 
leave to plant upon ever since he hath possessed the same we 
do not know whether to goe nor where to place ourselves for our 
Livelyhood in procuring us bread; having beine very very so- 
licitous wh. Mr. Webb to let us enjoy our said posetions againe 
he did condecend to our motion provided we would repay him 
his charges but we are pore and cannot doe so — or request is 
Mr. Webb may have a grant of about 5C. acres of lands in the 
wilderness which is our own proper lands as the aforesaid Island 
ever was. 
10--8--65 Nob How in behalf of 

my wife and children 


The petition was granted in the following terms: 

"In ans. to this petition the Court grant Mr. Jno. Evered 
five hundred acres of land adjoining to his lauds upon condition 
hee release his right in an Island in Merrimack river called Wi- 
cosaeke which was purchased by him of the Indian petitioners — 
also upon condition Wanalancett do release a former grant to 
him of an hundred acres and the Court do grant said Island to 
petitioners — John Parker and Jonathan Danforth are ap- 
pointed to lay out this grant of five hundred acres to John 

Edw. Rawson, Secy. 
14 Oct. 1665. Consented by the Deputies." 

At this time Evered aUas Webb had from Bess, wife of 
Nobb How, a daughter of Passaconaway, an agreement to release 
all right, claim, or interest she had in the land Evered had ac- 
quired and following this he acquired a deed from the sons of 
Passaconaway with her of all the Court had granted him. 

The original papers of agreement and deed are now in pos- 
session of a direct descendant of Edward Coburn, original per- 
manent settler of Dracut, and were but lately brought to light 
having for years lain concealed in a secret drawer of an old desk. 
This agreement and deed is as follows: 

The Covenant of promise of Bess Nobb How wife xxx ye 
Land of Augumtooeooke : "Be it kuo'Bii unto all men by these 
presents that I Bess, wife of Nobb How of Wea-Wamesit in the 
County of Middlesex in New England for and in consideration 
of four yards of Duffill and one pound of tobacco do hereby 
covenant and promise to and with Captayne John Evered aUas 
"Webb of Draueutt in the County of Norfolk that I, the said Bess 
for the consideration aforesaid will sign, seal and deliver a de- 
mand of covenant in writing of bargain and sale to the said John 
Webb his executors, administrators and assigns, any or either of 
them of me the said Bess of all the lands, premises and Heredita- 
ments now in the tenure, possession and holding of him, the said 
John Webb, his assign or assigns, tenant or under tenants now 
known and called by the name of Draueutt aforesaid and before 
the alienation thereof called and known and reported to be called 


and known by the name of Augumtooeooke. In testimony 
whereof I, the said Bess, have hereunto subscribed my name or 
made my mark this six and twentieth day of the month of Aprill 
in the year of our Lord God one thousand six hundred sixty and 
five (1665) 

Signed, and delivered in Bess — Nobb How, wife 

the presence of Richard Shatewell, X her mark" 

Samuel Varnum. 

This is followed by a deed to Capt. John Evered alias Webb : 

"To all Xtian (Christian) people to whom this present deed 
of Bargayne and Sale shall come : GREETING : 

Be it known unto aU men by these presents that wee Manu- 
musett alias Annansauge, Nonatoonamit and Bess, the wife of 
Nobb How for divers good causee and valuable consideration 
we hereunto moving have devised, granted, bargayned, sold, 
alyened, and enfeoffed and confirmed and by these presents do 
joyntly and severally devise, grant, bargayne, sell, alyen, enfeofe 
and confirm unto Captayne John Evered alias Webb of Drawcutt 
upon Mynomack alias Merrimack in the County of Norfolk, late 
of the town of Boston in New England, Merchant, all and 
singular one and every of right, title and titles, interest and 
interests, challenge and challenges, property and properties, 
deed and deeds, clayme and elaymes whatsoever we all or any 
of us have or may ever of right or of any rights ought to have 
challenge or clayme whatsoever upon any pretense or color what- 
soever into or unto all and every part of the Lands, premises, 
hereditaments to those and every of them now or at any tyme or 
tymes thereof in the tenure, use, occupation, holding, or posses- 
sion of the said John Evered, his heyres or assigns, tenants, or 
under tenants now called and known by the name of Drawcutt 
aforesaid lately called and kno«Ti or reported to be called before 
the alienation thereof Augumtoocook or by what other name or 
names soever before the same hath been called or known or re- 
ported to be called or known or any part thereof. 

Any tyme or tymes soever before the sealing and delivery 
hereof to have and to hold all and singular ye said land, premises 
hereditaments whatsoever as is in said presents before devised, 
granted, bargayned, sold, alyened, enfeoffed and confirmed unto 


the said John Evered as aforesaid unto him the John Evered, 
alias "Webb, his heyres and asignes forever, the same and every 
part thereof to enure and be his sole and only power, benefit, use 
and behoof of him, the said John Evered, alias Webb, his heyres 
and assigns forever and to their use and benefit or behoof what- 
soever. And furthermore we the said Manumusett, Nona- 
toonamit and Bess, the wife of Nobb How doe by these presents 
for us and every of us, jointly and severally covenant and 
promise to and unto the said John Evered his heyres and assigns 
all and singular the said devised premises with theyr and every 
of theyr appurtenances aforesaid from tyme to tyme and aU 
tymes thereafter to warrant and defend against us and every 
of us our heyres executors, administrators and assigns and every 
of them and all manner of other person or person whatsoever 
clayming the same or part thereof in, by, from or under or any 
or either of us or either of our heyres executors or administrators. 
In testimony whereof wee, the said Manumusett, Nona- 
toonamit and Bess, the wife of Nobb How aforesaid have hereunto 
sett our hands and seals or caused them to be sett and our names 
with our marks subscribed the nineteenth day of August in the 
year of our Lord God according to the computation of New 
England aforesaid One thousand six hundred and sixty five. 

Signed, sealed and delivered 

by Manumsett and Nonatoonamit 

aforesaid according to the Manumusett /^~\ his 

date aforesaid in presence of V_y seal 

us Joseph Maumauueronoote 

X Nonatoonamit 


His marke 
NiMROD Indian Bess wife of Nobb How 

his X marke her X mark (Seal) 

(El) Hen Nelson 

Then appeared before me this 
fifteenth of the sixth month 1666, 
the three persons yt have here- 
unto signed, sealed and acknowl- 
edged the deed, before me 

Daniel Gookin 


This instrumeut entered and recorded in ye County Records 
for Norfolk County Page 74 this 5th day of the 9th mo. 1666. 
(Register's name is torn off ) " 

It will be seen by this deed that Passaeonaway kept to his 
abdication and that deeds of lands were given by his children 
and without obtaining his signature. At this time it is apparent 
that Wannalancit's principal residence was at the island of 
Wiekasce and that Passaeonaway was on the Indian reservation 
of Pawtucket Falls on the north bank of the Merrimack which 
later became a large part of Dracut. About Namkeke, as Gookin 
writes, two miles from the Falls was Eliot's school, preaching 
station and Gookin 's Indian Court. The following happening 
related by Gookin shows the intense hostility of the Mohawks 
and how near they came to Pawtucket in their raids : 

"In the year 1670 a party of Mohawks looking for their 
prey met with Indians in the woods belonging to Nahamkeke 
upon the north side of the Merrimack river not far from English 
houses. When falling upon Indians that were traveling in a 
path they killed some and took some whom they also killed and 
among the rest a young maid of about fourteen years of age was 
taken, and the scalp of her head taken off and her skull broken 
and left for dead with others. Some of the Indians escaping 
came to their fellows and met a party of men. They went to bury 
the dead bodies when they found the maid with life in her, 
so they brought her home and got Lieut. Thomas Henchman, a 
good man and one that hath inspection over them by my orders 
to use means for her recovery. Though he had little hope he 
took the best care he could. As soon as he conveniently could, he 
sent her to an ancient and skilful woman called Goodwife Brooks, 
living at Woburn, about ten miles distant to use her best en- 
deavors to recover the maid, and by the blessing of God she did, 
although she was about two years recovering her. 

"I was at Goodwife Brook's in May 1673 and she showed me 
a piece or two of the skull she had taken out, and in May 1674 
I was among the Indians at Pawtucket to keep Court and Mr. 
Eliot and Mr. Daniels and others with me. I saw the maid alive 
and in health and looked upon her head which was whole except 


a little spot as big as a sixpence might cover and the maid 
fat and lusty, but there was no hair come again where the 
scalp was flayed off. ' ' 

It is recorded that in 1669, the year before this raid, Wanna- 
lancit came down the river to Pawtucket and rebuilt the fort 
as a protection from the Mohawks. This fort was the oval hiU 
from which so many Indian relics have been taken, situated on 
Riverside Street opposite the Lowell Textile School. It is evident 
the raiding party kept well away from the fort as this incident 
was between the Merrimack and Lake Mascuppic. Another fact 
in connection with this raid is that Gookin met the maid on her 
recovery at the same time and place of "Wannalancit's embracing 
the Christian faith which he relates as follows: 

' ' At this place once a year at the beginning of May the Eng- 
lish magistrate keeps the court accompanied by Mr. Eliot the 
minister who at this time takes his opportunity to preach not 
only to the inhabitants but to as many of the strange Indians 
that can be persuaded to hear him of which sort usually in times 
of peace, being an ancient and capital seat of the Indians, they 
come to fish ; and this good man takes opportunity to spread the 
net of the gospel to fish for their souls. Here it may not be im- 
pertinent to give you the relation following: May 5th, 1674, ac- 
cording to our usual custom Mr. Eliot and myself took our 
journey to Wamesit or Pawtucket and arrived there that even- 
ing. Mr. Eliot preached to as many of them as could be got to- 
gether out of Matt. 22d, 1-14, the parable of the marriage of the 
king's son. We met at the wigwam of one called "Wannalaneit 
about two miles from the town near Pawtucket falls and border- 
ing upon Merrimack river. This person Wannalaneit, is the 
eldest son of old Passaconaway the chiefest sachem of Pa\vtucket. 
He is a sober and grave person and of years between fifty and 
sixty. He has always been loving and friendly to the English. 
Many endeavors have been used several years to gain this sachem 
to embrace the Christian religion, but he has stood off from time 
to time and not yielded up himself personally though for years 
he hath been willing to hear the word of God preached, and to 
keep the Sabbath. A great reason that hath kept him off I eon- 


ceive hath been the indisposition and averseness of sundry of his 
chief men and relations to pray to God which he foresaw would 
desert him in case he turned Christian. But at this time, May 
6th, 1674, it pleased God to so influence and overcome his heart 
that it being proposed to.him to give his answer concerning pray- 
ing to God after some deliberation and serious pause he stood 
up and made a speech to this effect : 

"Sirs: You have been pleased for years past m your 
abuindant love to apply yourselves particularly unto me and my 
people to exhort, press and persuade us to pray to God. I am 
very thankful to you for your pains. I must acknowledge, ' said 
he, 'I have all my days used to pass in an old canoe (alluding 
to his frequent custom to pass in a canoe upon the river), and 
now you exhort me to change and leave my old canoe and embark 
in a new canoe to which I have hitherto been unwilling, but now 
I yield up myself to your advice and enter into a new canoe and 
do engage to pray to God hereafter. ' ' ' 

This act of Wannalancit 's was the year before the com- 
mencement of King Philip's war, and there is a strong proba- 
bility that he knew that chief was making preparations for the 
Indian uprising and was endeavoring to enlist the Merrimack 
Valley Indians in the war to come, so he took a stand, that he 
consistently followed, of peace throughout the struggle. Many 
happenings are on record of this. Wannalancit withdrew into 
the wilderness and this disquieted the Great and General Court 
so on Sept. 8th, 1675 it ordered Capt. Thomas Brattle and Lieut. 
Thomas Henchman to send a runner or two to "Wannalancit, 
Sachem of Naamkeke, who had withdrawal into the woods from 
fear, to come in again and to inform the Indians at Penacook and 
Naticook if they will live peaceably they shall not be harmed by 
the English. Under date of Oct. 1st, 1675 they gave the follow- 

"This our writing or safe conduct doth declare that the 
governor and council of Massachusetts do give you and every of 
you provided you exceed not six persons free liberty of coming 
unto and returning in safety from the House of Lieut. T. Hench- 
man of Naamkeke and there to treat with Capt. Daniel Gookin 


and Mr. John Eliot whom you know and (whom) we will fully 
empower to treat and conclude with you upon such meet terms 
and articles of friendship, amity, and subjection as was formerly 
made and concluded between the English and old Passaconaway 
your father and his sons and people; and for this end we have 
sent these messengers to convey these unto to you and to bring 
your answer whom we desire you to treat kindly and speedily to 
despatch them back to us with your answer. 

Dated in Boston 1st October 1675. 
Signed by order of the Council John Leverett, Gov'r. 

Edwaed Rawson, Sec'y-" 

The message reached Wannalancit, but he declined to return 
and the government bringing force to make him, ordered the 
noted Indian fighter, Capt. Samuel Mosely, with a company 
of one hundred men to disperse the Indian enemy at "Penagog," 
said to be gathered there for the purpose of mischief, and Capt. 
Mosely marched to Penacook but found their fort entirely 
deserted. Mosely burned their wigwam and destroyed their 
dried fish which had been cured for their winter use. Daniel 
Gookin says: "This was a mistake for there was not above one 
hundred in all the Penagog and Namkig Indians whereof Wanna- 
lancit was chief when the English drew nigh (whereof he 
Wannalancit) had intelligence by scouts they left their fort and 
withdrew into the woods and swamps where they had advantage 
and opportunity enough in ambushment to have slain many of 
the English soldiers without any great hazard to themselves; 
and several of the young Indians inclined to it, but the Sachem 
Wannalancit by his authority and wisdom restrained his men 
and suffered not an Indian to appear or shoot a gun. They were 
very near the English and yet though they were provoked by the 
English who burnt their \vigwams and destroyed their dried fish, 
yet not one gun was fired at any Englishman. ' ' 

At this time the Wamesit Indians who lived below Pawtucket 
Falls at the mouth of the Musketaquid River (Concord), who 
acknowledged allegiance to the Pawtuckets, were wrongly 
accused of burning a stack of hay belonging to James Richardson 
and all the able-bodied men were arrested and taken to Boston. 
Three of them were convicted and sold as slaves; the others set 


free and as they were returning home, in passing through 
Woburn, were fired upon by a man by name of Knight, killing 
an Indian related to the principal Indians of Natick and 

On the fifteenth day of November a barn of Lieut. James 
Richardson of Chelmsford being burned, the Indians were 
charged with it and a body of fourteen armed men went to the 
wigwams of the Indians, called them to come out, — men, women 
and children. Two of the English fired upon them, killing one 
boy and wounding five of the women and children. There now 
being no safety for them at their home, the entire tribe removed 
into the wilderness to join Wannalancit. The English ordered 
Lieut. Henchman to send after them and persuade them to come 
back. An Indian, by the name of Weeoposit, was sent who found 
the Indians about Penacook, but could not persuade them to 
come back. They were suffering much for food, but still they pre- 
ferred staying in the wilderness, but they sent back a letter giv- 
ing their reasons for leaving which was written by Simon 
Betogkow, their Indian preacher and teacher, who had been 
taught by Mr. Eliot : 

"To Mr. Thomas Henchman, of Chelmsford: I: Numphow 
and John Line we send the messenger to you again with this 
answer ; we cannot come home again ; we go towards the French ; 
we go where Wannalancit is. The reason we went away from 
our home we had help from the Council but that did not do us 
good, but we had wrong by the English. 2dly: The reason we 
went away from the English for when there was any harm done 
in Chelmsford they laid it to us and said we did it and we know 
ourselves we never did harm to the English, but we go away 
peaceably and quietly. 3dly: As to the Island we say there is 
no safety for us because many English be not good and maybe 
they come to us and kill us as in the other case. "We are not 
sorry for what we leave behind, but we are sorry the English 
have driven us from our praying to God and from our teacher 
(Mr. Eliot). We did begin to understand a little praying to 
God. We thank humbly the Council; we remember our love to 
Mr. Henchman and Mr. James Richardson. 

The mark of X John Line ) Their 
The mark of X Numphow j Rulers" 


These Wamesits missed finding Wannalancit and the 
Pawi;uckets and most of them were forced to return to Chelms- 
ford from fear of starvation. Major Gookin, Major Williard, 
and Mr. Eliot were appointed a committee to visit and comfort 
thera and to make necessary provision for them. On the 5th of 
February, following, they petitioned the Government and 
Council, through Jerathmel Bowers, that they might be removed 
from Chelmsford fearing to stay, and their petition being 
neglected they fled again into the woods towards Pennakoog, 
leaving only five or six in one wigwam who were lame and blind. 
This wigwam was set on fire by some of the people of Chelmsford 
and they were all burned together. 

The Wamesits succeeded this time in finding Wannalancit, 
but not until a number had perished of hunger among whom 
was Mystic George and Numphow, then Sagamore, the husband 
of Bess, daughter of Passaconaway. 

None of the Indians returned to Pawtucket until after the 
close of King Philip's War when a few came with Wannalancit 
who at this time called upon the Rev. Mr. Fish of Chelmsford and 
inquired if they had suffered much during the war. Mr. Fish 
told him very little for which he thanked God. The following 
March, 1677, this information was communicated to the Governor 
and Council by James Parker from Mr. Henchman 's farm ' ' near 
Merrimack Haste Post Haste. ' ' 

"To the Honored Governor and Council. This may inform 
your honors that Sagamore Wannalancit came this morning to 
inform me and then went to ]\Ir. Tyng's to inform him that his 
son being on ye other side of Merrimack River, a hunting, and 
his daughter with him up the River over against Souhegan upon 
the 22nd of this instant he discovered 15 Indians on this side of 
the River which he supposed to be Mohawks by their speech. He 
called them; they answered, but he could not understand their 
speech and he having canou there in the River he went to feeh 
his canou that they might not have anines of it; in the mene 
time they shot about thirty guns at him and he being frighted 
fled and came home to Nahamcook forthwith where their wig- 
wams now stand. 

r. , ■, ry • 1 , r.^ T.r ,„„„„,, James Parker. 

Ree'd 9 night 24 March 76-77." 


Wannalancit stopped about in the region of Wickasee until 
September, but the English had taken his planting grounds. 
Mr. Eliot says, "He ("Wannalancit) was persuaded to come in 
again; but the English having plowed and sowti all their lands 
they had but little corn to subsist by. A party of French Indians 
(of whom some were of the kindred of this Sachem's wife) very 
lately fell upon this people being but few and unarmed and 
partly by persuasion and partly by force carried them away. 

"The fact is Wannalancit saw his lands taken up and im- 
proved which the Legislature had granted him. ' ' 

This was the 19th of September, 1677. Major Gookin, the 
fast friend of Wannalancit, gives the following reasons for his 
leaving and retiring to St. Francis : 

"First this man had but a weak company, not above eight 

"Secondly, he lived at a dangerous frontier place for the 
Mohawks that were now in small parties watching opportunities 
to slay and captivate these Indians, had lately done mischiefs 
a few miles off. 

"Thirdly he had but little corn to live on for the ensuing 
winter, for his land was improved by the English before he 
came in. 

"Fourthly, the Indians that came from the French were his 
kindred and relations for one of them was his wife's brother; 
and his oldest son also lived with the French. 

"Fifth, these Indians Informed him that the war was not 
yet at an end and that he would live better and with more 
safety among the Indians." 

All the injury to Dracut in King Philip's war was when 
' ' the strange Indians, ' ' not the Pawtuckets, attacked and burned, 
with one exception, all the buildings Edward Coburn had pur- 
chased of John Evered alias Webb. This exception still stand- 
ing is what at present is known as the Major Durkee house, and 
at that time was Daniel Gookin 's Indian Court. It then was 
successfully defended by Edward Coburn and sons, having been 
palisaded and used as a garrison. It was at this time Samuel 
Vamum and sons were crossing the river to milk his cows that 
the Indians shot and killed two of his sons. In April, 1676, the 


General Court ordered Lieut. James Richardson to build a garri- 
son liouse at Pawtueket falls and it was placed under his com- 
mand. It was located on the Indian reservation and was never 
attacked by the Indians. This was in excellent condition when 
torn down. 

Our ancestors, in their desire to possess the land, were 
blinded and did not understand the Indians and never seemed to 
realize that they were composed of the good and the bad, but in 
every controversy acted on the theory that they were all bad. 

Jeremy Belknap, D. D., author of the "History of New 
Hampshire," bears testimony as follows: 

"However fond we may be of accusing the Indians of 
treachery it must be confessed that the example was first set 
them by the Europeans. Had we always treated them with 
justice and humanity, which our religion inculcates and our true 
interest at all times required, we might have lived with them in 
as much harmony as any other people on the globe. ' ' 

George Catlin, in his "Manners, Customs and Conditions of 
the North American Indians" bears the following testimony: 
"I fearlessly assert to the world and I defy contradiction that 
the North American Indian in his native state is everywhere a 
highly moral and religious being endowed b}' his Maker with an 
intuitive knowledge of some great author of his being and the 
Universe in dread of whose displeasure he constantly lives with 
the apprehension before him of a future state where he expects 
to be rewarded or punished according to the merits he has gained 
or forfeited in this world." 

The incidents related by Magistrate Gookin of the raid 
by the Mohawks was from the river toward Lake Mascuppic. 
When Dracut was incorporated in 1701-2 its bounds commenced 
and took in a part of Wannalancit's island of Wickasee, and the 
falls at that place furnished the fish to fertilize the corn planted 
on the island, but the great fishing place was the Pawtueket falls 
from which an enormous quantity of salmon, shad, alewives and 
Lamprey eels was each year secured and a year's supply of dried 
and smoked fish stored. The fishing season brought a great 


gathering of the Indians of the Merrimack Valley and it was the 
time of council, merry-making and match-making. In all deeds 
given by the Indians the right to fish and hunt was reserved. 
With the departure of Wannalancit to the French, the Paw- 
tuckets never returned to the Falls. 

Jeremy's Hill in New Hampshire is often mentioned in early 
deeds and the following Indian deed dated 1659 but not recorded 
until 1679 is here given. 

"Know All Men By These Presents that I Nedacockett, an 
Indian born within that tract of land now inhabited and known 
by the name of Matachusetts, having by lawful right a tract of 
land which was given my father and uncle, at their death, have 
upon due consideration and for a debt due to Jeremiah Belcher 
of Ipswich in New England which has been owing to him seven 
or eight years of about twenty six pounds, do give and fuUy 
grant and make over and sell all my right of that land of mine 
which butting against Pawtucket and so running along Haver- 
hillward as far as old William's Wigwam and so up the country 
to a Hill called Jeremy's with all meadows; and this I make 
over to Jeremy Belcher of Ipswich as above to enjoy with peace 
and quietness and his heirs forever as witness my hand and seal 
dated the 28th of March 1659. 
Signed and delivered in presence of us 
John Denison 
Lidia Jordan. 

Nedacockett (a mark and seal) 
Recorded Feb. 27th, 1679." 

Of localities named we present a map of grants of land on 
the north bank of the Merrimack from Webb 's dated 1659 to 1693 
which shows the great Indian reservations of Pawtucket Falls 
which commenced on the river above the Lowell General Hospi- 
tal ; from thence to easterly side of Spruce Swamp ; thence to 
Long Pond (Lake Passaconaway) taking in part of the pond; 
thence down Alewive or Double Brook to Beaver Brook; from 
thence up the river to the starting point. There still remains in 
the woodland, not far from the Lowell General Hospital, a part 
of the Indian ditch which marked the reservation. There was 


an Indian settlement at Long Pond which, in justice, should be 
named the Indian name of Lake Passaconaway as Tyng's pond 
has regained its Indian name Lake Maseuppic. The records 
plainly show that the Indian Court was at Nahamkeag which was 
the land by the river at the point of the grant to the members 
of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. 

As Chapter V, relating to the establishment of the Province 
line, is written to prove the important part taken by Dracut 
when the line was surveyed in 1721, so in the article prepared by 
Mr. Wilson abundant proof is presented which shows conclu- 
sively that the territory now Dracut was the capital seat of the 
great chief Passaconaway, whose jurisdiction extended over the 
tribes who dwelt in the valley of the Merrimack. This locality 
held the same relationship to the others that a capital city does 
to a state. It was the home of the chief, the location of the court 
and the place where the first schools for the Indians were es- 
tablished. The article prepared by Mr. Wilson closes after re- 
cording events which preceded the commencement of King 
PhiUp's war in 1675. The following records relate more to the 
customs and habits of the Indians and their history during the 
Colonial period. An effort has been made to avoid repetition but 
to retain the quaint manner of writing of those early days some 
of the contents of those early documents are recorded a second 

The time of the arrival of the Indians in this country and 
the place from which they came has long been the problem 
which learned men have tried to solve. They had no written 
language and consequently no records for the antiquarian to 
study. Their houses were wigwams composed of frail, perish- 
able material and their abiding places only in such localities as 
suited their present needs. They located near a river which was 
a natural highway for journeying in their canoes as their natural 
indolence caused them to be averse to the labor of walking. 
They also derived much of their food from the river, and long 
practice made them skillfiil in the use of nets and seines. By 
killing deer and trapping beaver and other animals and dress- 
ing the hides, much of their clothing was procured. As many of 


the tribes were enemies, they chose those locations most suited 
for defence and safetj'. The productiveness of the soil did not 
influence their choice as they knew nothing of agriculture 
beyond the raising of yellow com, beans and squashes and all 
drudgery of this kind was performed by the squaws. The vast 
forests of pine and oak trees were of value to them only as homes 
for the wild animals which they hunted for food. 

Their encampments were sometimes found at a distance from 
the river, but would be near a ledge which would be composed 
of stone suitable for arrow heads, hatchets, motars, etc. In 
the Dracut museum there are fragments of a stone basin found 
while excavating a cellar at the Navy Yard village, also stone 
hatchets found at New Boston village, a stone knife shaped like 
a chopping knife and used for scraping the flesh from hides, a 
butterfly ornament, a stone gouge and arrow heads all found in 
Dracut. The methods, by which the Indians wei-e able to cut 
and shape their flint arrow-heads, were for a long time a problem. 
They knew nothing of the use of iron or steel, but the articles 
fashioned show skilful work. Selecting proper shaped bones 
they placed them in the ground and let them remain until the 
fatty matter was all extracted, and with this hard bone they 
were able to shape their implements of war and hunting. There 
were workmen whose duties were to shape these implements, and 
long practice made them skilful in their work. They studied 
carefully the grain of the stone and understood the direction 
and force of the blow as is the custom of the lapidary of the 
present day when he shapes precious gems. 

An Indian encampment mentioned in County records has 
been identified as being located on the high ground a few rods 
east of Long Pond and near its southern extremity. Here the 
Indians cooked their fish and the ashes and charred wood which 
have been turned out by the plow with the many Indian utensils 
found here in former times are proof of the location of the camp 
ground. This field is a part of the Varnum farm now owned 
by Joseph P. Varnum. They acknowledged a chief or sachem 
who was the supreme head of the tribe, also sagamores who were 
next in rank while subject to the chief. They claimed certain 
locations not as we do by individual ownership but as tribal 
possessions. When the white men came here, the Pawtucket tribe 


of Indians was located near the Falls. The Indians gave the 
name to the vicinity of the faUs as it meant in their language 
place of a loud noise. Pautuck means a water fall from pau a 
loud noise and tugh, place. The Wamesits lived near Concord 
River where a part of Lowell is now located. Both tribes were 
friendly and peaeable. 

The spirit of cruelty and the love of war was lacking and 
they were subject to invasions of the Mohawks who lived to the 
west and who were fierce and warlike. The chief, whom the 
whites found on their arrival, was named Passaconaway and he 
is entitled to the credit of realizing the situation in which the 
country was placed and of forecasting accurately the future. In 
his dealings with the whites we have an illustration of the pro- 
verb that history repeats itself. Three thousand years before 
this time, when the Hebrews were about to enter Canaan, a 
woman of that nation said to the spies: "I know that the Lord 
hath given you this land and that a terror is fallen upon us 
and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you." 
In the same spirit Passaconaway addresses his people when he 
conferred the office of sachem on his son, Wannalancit : "I am 
now going the way of all flesh. I am readj' to die and not likely 
to see you meet together any more. I will now leave this word 
of counsel with you. Take heed how you quarrel with the 
English. Hearken to the last words of your father and friend. 
The wliite men are the sons of the morning. The Great Spirit is 
their father. He shines bright about them. Sure as you light 
the fires the breath of Heaven will turn the breath upon you and 
destrojr you. Remember it and live." 

As their numbers decreased, they quietly withdrew and be- 
came identified with Canadian tribes. The settlers were not to 
be allowed to occupy their land in peace, for soon after the 
Varnums and Coburns arrived, a war of extermination of the 
settlers was commenced by King Philip and relentlessly carried 
on. No one was spared, while buildings were burned and cattle 
driven off and great havoc made before the savages could be 
overcome. The towns in the Connecticut valley were destroyed 
and as they advanced eastward the settlements in the Alerrimack 
valley were attacked. Although to some extent Chelmsford was 
forewarned it did not escape their fury. Extracts from early 


histories relating to this territory record these facts. As this 
occurred before the organization of the town this locality was 
called Chelmsford. 

Fox, in his "History of Dunstable," records: "February 
25 1675 an attack was made by the Indians upon Chelmsford 
and several buildings were burned, Colburn's garrison, on the 
east side of the river was strengthened but nearly all the other 
settlements were deserted." 

Another writer says: "At Chelmsford the Wamesit Indians 
about March 18th 1676 fell upon some houses on the north side 
of the river and burned down three or four that belonged to the 
family of Edward Colburn." 

Another early historian writes: "Chelmsford, where were 
many deserted houses burned in the beginning of April 1676 
belonging to one Ed. Colburn that had formerly purchased the 
Seat of Capt. Web." 

Drake, in his "Indian Wars," says: "Mar. 18th 1675 at 
Chelmsford the said Wamesit Indians fell upon some houses on 
the North side of the River burnt down three or four that be- 
longed to the family of Edward Colburn : the said Colburn with 
Samuel Varnum his neighbor being pursued as they passed over 
the river to look after their Cattell on that side of the river." 

As Edward Colburn's land was on the Merrimack River 
these houses stood on what is now Varnum Avenue or near it. 
The historians who have given us the facts have evidently 
reasoned from the proximity of the Wamesits that they were the 
aggressors in the destruction of these buildings, but a study of 
their disposition leads to the conclusion that it was not this peace- 
ful tribe, but either the Mohawks from New York or some 
wandering parties of King Philip's men who burned and 
destroyed wherever they found the white man. 

On the highland overlooking the river and between the 
Hamblett or Garrison House Cemetery and Riverside Street, 
there was a Garrison House erected. Realizing the need of a fort 
for protection from the raids of the Indians, Lieut. Thomas Rich- 
ardson received orders to erect one and he chose this site on what 
is now Riverside Street. It was later the home of Joseph, the 
youngest son of Samuel Varnum, and probably the one who was 
wounded at Meadow bridge, as will be recorded later. It was 


demolished about 1880. The older residents will remember the 
low posted two-story building with its large chimney and ancient 
appearance. Like other block houses, it was built with pro- 
jecting stories. The first rested on the cellar wall and was of the 
same size. Th second was larger than the first and the top or 
attic was still lai-ger. 

Mr. Atkinson C. Varnum was interested in Dracut history 
and preserved much valuable information relating to the early 
days. His manner of writing and presentation of facts are ex- 
cellent and his description of the garrison house will be recorded 
in his o-\NTi words: "The old two story pitched roof house in 
Dracut, known as the Garrison house, and situated on the 
westerly side of the road leading from Pawtucket Bridge to the 
Navy Yard, is being demolished to make way for the march of 
improvement. The house is forty-five feet front by twenty-two 
feet deep and was built by the early settlers of Dracut in 1674 
as a place of rendezvous in case of an attack by the Indians for 
the safety of the women and children, and for the better defence 
of their property by the men. The roof was about one third 
pitched and persons could stand under the ridge pole of the 
attic. The flooring and framing timbers were sixteen inches 
square and are all hewed instead of being sawed. They are of a 
reddish variety of pitch pine. The second story projected over 
the first in order to afford an opportunity to shoot through loop- 
holes downward upon any foe that might make an attack upon 
the garrison. The perpendicular projecting timbers of the 
second storj' terminated in an ornamental finish at their lower 
extremity and appear as sound as when put into the framework 
of the building 212 years ago. The bricks of which the lower 
portion of the chimney was constructed were made in Scotland as 
appears from the inscription on them. A portion of the basement 
is partitioned off from the rest by a heavy stone wall. This en- 
closure is supposed to have been made for the better safety and 
security of the women and children who sought safety from time 
to time in the basement." 

It may be added that the house was ceiled or wainscotted 
over the plastering with oak plank to make it bullet-proof. There 
was also a stockade made of logs standing upright and set in the 
ground with a gate which was closed at night. In time of alarm 


the settlers, with their families, would stay at this house for 
safety. Those were the times when men working iu the field had 
their muskets at hand and who, on Sunday, carried them to 
church and stacked them near the door while the sentry kept 
watch from some elevated platform to give the alarm if the 
savages appeared. 

In his search for early Dracut history Mr. A. C. Varnum has 
found traditions which, while they cannot be verified, are highly 
probable. He writes in his reminiscences: "At one time the 
garrison was surrounded by the Indians who had already got in- 
side of the stockade. Pursued by them into the house, the 
soldiers prepared to meet the invaders as best they could. The 
Indians killed the trumpeter who stationed himself at the door, 
but they were met with such spirit by the gallant defenders that 
not one of them went out of the fort aHve. On another occasion 
the Indians planned an attack on the garrison. When they were 
first seen there was no one in the house but a woman and her 
children, the soldiers having gone out to make some investiga- 
tions. The woman who kept a sharp lookout, saw the enemy 
lurking around, and with great presence of mind put on the 
uniform of a 'Hussar' and taking a musket began walking back 
and forth in front of the house. In a short time she went out 
of sight and changed her uniform. All this time the Indians lay 
watching these movements supposing they had not been seen, but 
from what they saw imagined the fort was too strongly gar- 
risoned for a successful attack and so they withdrew and left the 
brave woman unmolested." 

At the time of the demolition of the building, its value as a 
historical landmark was not appreciated. Fortunately an ex- 
cellent picture of the building was secured, but not until the 
wings, sheds and stockade had been removed. 

In 1859 a writer in the Lowell Citizen says: "A party of 
men returning from the meadows where they had been after 
hay were waylaid and fired upon by the Indians at the fordway 
which is called Old Meadow Bridge." Taken by surprise some 
were killed and others wounded, but the name of only one has 
been preserved. Joseph Varnum was wounded but recovered and 
lived many years. No date is mentioned but as these attacks 


occurred usually during King Philip's war there can be little 
doubt of its being Joseph, son of Samuel Varnum who came from 

After the close of Queen Anne's war a treaty of peace with 
the Indians was concluded at Portsmouth, but their treacherous 
nature rendered treaties unreliable. While with some tribes 
their honor or interest would incline them to peace, other tribes 
would disregard the agreement. In 1724 a party of Mohawks 
attacked Dunstable killing and carrying away the settlers as 
captives. Eealizing their danger Chelmsford and Dracut sent 
men to aid their neighbors in defending their homes. Their 
leader, John Lovewell, with others, petitioned for a license to 
shoot the Indians. This was probably granted, as two Dracut 
men, Henry Coburn and John Varnum, served in Lovewell 's first 
expedition, Varnum re-enlisted and served in a second 

The settlements were constantly threatened by the Indians 
and they were obliged to depend largely on themselves for pro- 
tection. The petition to which reference has been made is as 
follows : 

"The humble memorial of John Lovel, Josiah Farwell, Jona- 
than Robbins all of Dunstable sheweth, That your petitioners 
with near forty or fifty others are inclinable to range and to 
keep out in the woods for several months together, in order to 
kill and destroy their enemy Indians, provided they can meet 
with Incouragement suitable. And your petitioners are Im- 
ployed and desired by many others. Humbly to propose and 
submit to your Honors consideration, that if such soldiers may 
be allowed five shillings per day, in case they kill any enemy 
Indian and possess their scalp they will Imploy themselves in 
Indian hunting one whole year; and if within that time they 
do not kill any they are content to be allowed nothing for their 
time and trouble." 

Reed's "Hildreth Family" records a muster roll of the 
company in His Majesty's service under the command of Eleazer 
Tyng. Ephraim Hildreth, rank, sergeant, residence Dracut. 
Entrance on the service June 10, 1725. Till what time in the 
service Nov 3 1725. Whole time in service 21 weeks." 


The English government did not recognize any rights which 
the Indians might have in the land and granted those lands 
without regard to any claims of former ownership. The grantees 
in the interest of peace in many cases purchased the land from 
the Indian claimant. The price paid was often small in propor- 
tion to later values, but it satisfied the Indians and made them 
more friendly disposed towards the white people. Mrs. Clarence 
G. Cohurn has in her possession an old deed, found with other 
papers where for many years they had lain concealed in a secret 
drawer in an old desk, and brought to light in later years by the 
loosening of some of the ornamental work. The ink retains its 
color while the paper is yellow with age. Previous to the writing 
of the deed Webb prepared a paper which he presented to Bess, 
an Indian squaw, with the promise in case she signed it of tobacco 
and "duffill." This contract may be found in the first section 
of this chapter on Indian history. 

Bess was the daughter of Passaconaway and wife of Nobb 
How or Numphow the Sagamore of Wamesit. The duflfill men- 
tioned was a stout cloth which, like camlet, was in use and from 
references to it, it was probably cloth of a superior quality.* The 
poet Wadsworth, in the poem entitled "Goody Blake and Harry 
Gill," refers to "Good duifel gray and flannel fine." 

The Richard Shatswell, whose name appears as one of the 
witnesses, came to this vicinity at an early date and purchased 
large tracts of land. He was contemporary with Tyug, Hench- 
man, "Webb, Varnum and Coburn, and, in common with the first 
three named, had no intention to settle, but purchased for pur- 
poses of speculation. He came from Ipswich and sold land to 
Edward Coburn receiving in return Coburn 's property at 
Ipswich. The great pine tree standing at the N. W. corner of 
Edward Tyng's grant was known as Setchel's pine. (See Early 
Grants.) His name appears spelled in different ways as, Shats- 
well, Shadswell, Satchel, Setchel, Sethell, Sachel, Stitchell, Chad- 
well and Chatswell. There is a meadow on Coburn 's sawmill 
brook called ' ' The Cathole. " It is reasonable to infer that it was 
once the property of Chatswell, but in transferring it by deed to 

•Webster's Dictionary defines it as "A kind of coarse woolen cloth having 
a thick nap or frieze." 


different parties the name became at length Cathole. The 
Samuel Varnum named was from Ipswich and the first of the 
name to settle in this vicinity. 

The original deed is in possession of Mr. J. B. V. Cobum of 
Lowell and is a valuable relic, as it shows the actual marks made 
by the Indians and the signature of Daniel Gookin, who for 
many years was the agent in charge of the Indians and a re- 
liable historian. In an agreement between the inhabitants of 
Chelmsford and the Indians of Wamesit, in 1665, in relation to 
the divisional line, the name of "nobhow" appears as one who 
signed the paper for the Indians. It would appear from this 
transaction that Bess had an interest in the land north of the 
river, while her husband. Nob, had authority relating to land 
on the Concord river. It has already been stated that Bess Nob 
How or Numphow was the daughter of Passaconaway. Nona- 
toonamit or Nonatonemut was his son. The identity of the other 
signer is not so certain. Manumusett or Annaniange, as near as 
the name can be deciphered, may have been the same person as 
Unanquosett, another son of Passaconaway which is quite reason- 
able to suppose. The name of the third witness in full is Eliz- 
abeth Henry Nelson. She was a servant maid in the household 
of Captain Webb, and after his death she received a legacy with 
some wages due from his estate, for which she gave a receipt to 
Thomas Henchman the administrator. 

Bess appears in later years as the sole grantor in a deed 
dated April 29, 1684, of which we give an abstract: "Old Bess 
Numphow widow (the relict of John Numphow of Waymesit 
deceased) now of Waymesit near Pawtucket, in consideration of 
a valuable sum of money to Samuel Sewell of Boston, Merchant 
a small tract of land between three and four hundred acres near 
Wekasook bounded by Merrimake River on the west, by Samuel 
Varnum southwardly and Eastwardly, by a farm that was Capt. 
Scarletts North westerly, containing the whole tract of land that 
Capt. John Hull Esq. deceased purchased of Thomas 
Hinchman. ' ' 

The land thus conveyed is thought to have been the Westerly 
end of the Military grant, with a part of the BiUerica grant, and 
extended from the river northward to Huckleberry hill. It was 
formerly owned by Capt. John Webb and from his estate it 


passed to Thomas Henchman who gave a title to Capt. John 
Hull father-in-law of Judge Sewell. The Sewells sold in 1715 
to John Colburn who, in 1721, sold to John Littlehale. Later 
a portion of this property passed again to the Colburns. In 
1755 on petition of the Littlehales to the General Court the 
homesteads and other lands were annexed to Dunstable and are 
now a part of the town of Tyngsboro. 

Another old deed has reference to a portion of the town of 
Dracut. March 28, 1659, Nedacocket, an Indian, for a debt 
which he owed to Jeremiah Belcher amounting to 26 pounds 
sold "All my right of that land of mine which lyeth on the 
other side of Merrimae River Butting against Panteukit and so 
running along to Haverhillward as far as to old Williams Wig- 
wam and so up the country to a hill called Jeremys Hill \vith all 
the meadows." Old Will is mentioned on the records of Haver- 
hill as having a "planting ground" not far from Spicket River. 
As Jeremys hill is in the west part of Pelham above Gumpus' a 
line drawn from a point "Haverhillward" to Jeremy's Hill and 
"Butting against Panteuket" would include the greater part 
of Dracut. But this would be done to satisfy the Indian, who 
supposed he had certain rights to the land. Jeremy, who is sup- 
posed to have dwelt near the hill in Pelham, which still bears his 
name, was a signer to this deed with Nedacockett. In 1710 
Belcher's son, Jeremiah Belcher, Jr., petitioned the General Court 
for a grant of land on the right of his father, and the Court 
ordered the town of Dracut to lay out a tract of three hundred 
acres. This tract was an oblong 200 by 240 rods between Island 
and North ponds bounded on the northeast by the latter pond, 
and on the east by the line of the town. This would include 
Poplar hill which now lies at the northeastern comer of the 

About thirty years after the actual settlement of the town 
another deed was recorded as follows : 

"To all Christian people to whom this present deed may 


Know ye that I, Master John Thomas Sagamore Minister of 
Natick The right heir of the soille of Dracut for three hundred 


pounds of silver to him in hand, well and truly paid, ye Minister 
of Natick John Thomas by John Colburue, Thomas Colburne, 
Robert Colburne, Daniel Colburne, Ezra Colburne, Joseph Col- 
burne, The Hannah Richardson, widow, Thomas Varnum John 
Varnum Joseph Varnum of Dracut near Chelmsford in the 
County aforesaid. Whereof the said John Thomas doth acknow- 
ledge doth release and discharge the said John, Thomas, Robert 
&c and doth freely bargain and convey to the above named John, 
Thomas, Robert &c Two or three thousand acres of land, be it 
more or less bounded on Merrimac River on ye South and 
on Master Sewalls farm on the west and so running a straight 
line to ye North Side of Lond Pond to a tree with stones by it 
and marked, and so running Nor East to a Brook called Beaver 
Brook and containing all the land that the above named Col- 
burns and Varnuras possessed and running on Beaver Brook to 
a farm called Chelmsford laud and so running west to a corner 
pine tree marked and then running South to another pine tree 
marked and thence running east to another corner bound and 
running south to Merrimac River at Pau-Tucket, and there 
bounded by a white oak tree to have and to hold to the said John 
Colburne, Thomas Colburne &c their heirs administrators and 
assigns forever. In witness whereof the said John Thomas has 
aiifixed his hand and seal hereunto set this seventh day of the 
fourth month called April in the year of our Lord One Thousand 
seven hundred and one, in the thirteenth year of the reign of our 
sovereign Lord King William. John Thomas his seal and 
mark. ' ' 

By "Chelmsford land" reference is probably made to the 
500 acres on the west of Beaver Brook including Pawtucket- 
ville known as The Indian Reservation which had been pur- 
chased by parties living in Chelmsford. 

In 1629, John Wheelwright purchased of the Indians a 
large tract of land between the Piseataqua and Merrimack rivers, 
extending from the sea to "Pentucket Falls and from thence in 
a north west line twenty English miles into the woods." 
Whether or not this deed covered the soil of Dracut is imcertain, 
depending on whether Pentucket (crooked place) is meant the 
falls at Lawrence or Lowell. It is evident that Wheelwright laid 


no claim to the land bounding south on the Merrimack where 
towns were later laid out by authority of the General Court of 
Mass. In 1719 the grandson of Wheelwright sold to the settlers 
of Londonderry by virtue of this deed a tract of ten square 
miles bounding on the Dracut line. 

Reference has been made to Bess, wife of Nob How, a 
daughter of Passaconaway who was at the head of a confederacy 
of several tribes which included the Wamesits and Pa\\i;uckets. 
They were peaceful tribes and largely engaged in agriculture. 
On the South were the Pequots, who were the leaders in the 
war for the extermination of the white people in 1675 known 
as King Philip's war, on the east were the Tarratines, and on the 
west the Mohawks, aU fierce warlike tribes who at intervals 
would attack the peaceful tribes for the purpose of plunder. 

The purpose of the organization was defence against these 
tribes. King Philip endeavored to enlist these tribes to assist in 
the war, but they refused to join him. While Passaconaway 
had a residence at Pennacook Island and other homes on the 
Merrimack, the region in which Dracut is situated was included 
in his jurisdiction. In 1660, realizing that his days were 
numbered, he, according to custom, delivered a farewell address 
and conferred upon his son, Wannalaneit, his authority as chief- 
tain, who in 1669, built a fort at Pawtucket for protection against 
his enemies the Mohawks. 

This was the year in which Edward Colburn came to 
Dracut and purchased a garrison house near Varnum Avenue. 
Passaconaway had at least six children, among them Nanamoco- 
muck, a sagamore of the Waehusett tribe, which was about the 
vicinity of the Waehusett mountains, Unanunquosett, and Nona- 
tomenut, also Bess wife of Nob How, the two last named appear- 
ing on the Indian deed on another page and Wannalaneit, who, 
as stated, succeeded his father. 

Reference has been made in Mr. Wilson's article to an 
Indian ditch. In the history of Lowell there are also references 
to an Indian ditch which was between the settlements of the 
Wamesits on Concord River and the town of Chelmsford. These 
were shallow trenches resembling a furrow made by a plow and 
were designed to show the boundaries of their reservations. The 
ditch which evidently reached from Merrimack river to Long 


Pond, marking the west bound of the Indian Reservation of 500 
acres, has nearly disappeared by reason of cultivation of the land 
and other causes, but a few rods in length remains on a knoll a 
few rods from the Lowell General Hospital in a northerly direc- 
tion. As the knoll is not suitable for cultivation, this interesting 
relic has been preserved, the work of a race once the dwellers 
of this locality, but which long ago passed away to be succeeded 
by the white man. 



ALL references to the present territory of Draeut, when occu- 
pied by the Indians, are to the Willdernesse North of the 
Merrimack. The Indians kept no records and the ownership of 
the land was not individual but tribal. The governments of the 
old world claimed sovereignty- by rights of discovery. The 
French possessed Canada; the Dutch, New York; the Swedes, 
Delaware; the Spaniards, Florida; and the English, New Eng- 
land and Virginia. 

The first task of the settlers was to clear away the forests 
and disperse the wild beasts and Indians, which were the sole 
occupants of the land. Gradually removing from the seaeoast, 
as new territory was required, they reached the Merrimack river 
and in 1653 the town of Chelmsford was incorporated. 

The settlers of the new towns were in indigent circum- 
stances. Verv little money was in circulation. They needed 
bridges, school buildings and houses of worship, and application 
was made to the Colonial authorities for assistance. As funds 
were needed "advances" so called, were made by men of 
financial ability and their loans to the treasury were repaid by 
liberal grants of land in the wilderness. Sometimes these grants 
were given to civil or military officials for services rendered. 
Again a grant would be made to assist a needy town. In this 
way a great part of the territory of Draeut was parcelled out 
before settlement. It is fortunate that records have been pre- 
served by which the ownership of all parts of Draeut may, in a 
general way, be found. It is sometimes difficult to locate the 
exact boimdary lines, but distances from water courses, when 
given, assist in finding the locations, and very early deeds often 
refer to the lines in a manner intelligible to the student. 

The Military Grant 

Four members of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery 
Company, for services rendered, received a grant of land. Re- 
taining the early spelling we find: 


"June 7. 1659. Laid out to Left, peter Oliver: Capt. James 
Oliver: Capt. James Johnson and ensign John Evered one 
thousand ace. of land in ye wildernesse on ye Northerne side 
of merriraack River, Lying about Nahamkeage lieing bounded 
by merrimack Rivr on ye South and on ye west, the wildernesse 
else wher Surrounding according to marked trees as bye a plot 
taken of the same is demonstrated." John Evered for reasons 
unknown to us adopted the name of Webb, by which name he 
is generally known. He, by deed dated June 7, 1664, became 
sole owner of this tract. The deed states that "we, Peter Oliver 
and Sarah his wife James oUiver & mary his wife, & James 
Johnson and Abagail his wife for and in consideration of a 
Warehouse built on a parcle of Land on the Southerly part of 
the Dock called and known by the name of Peter olliver's Dock 
by John Evered, Aleus Web and by him Declard Long Sinse 
into their possession &c Have given unto the 8"^ John Evered 
Aleus Webb all that our Several Parcels of Land being Two 
Hundred and Fifty Acres of upland & Meadow and in the whole 
containing seven hundred and Fifty acres be it more or less 
granted unto us severally and Layed out unto us in one peace. ' ' 

This is dated "the 27 Day of June 1664 it being in the 15th 
year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord Charles the Second 
By the Grace of God of England, Scotland France & Ireland 
King Defender of the faith." 

"Nahamkeage" (variously spelled) meant "eel land" or 
fishing place, and was the Indian name for the region on and near 
the river above Pa\\i:ucket falls. The plan is on file in the State 
archives, and the location and bounds can be approximately 
given. As the site of the first settlement it possesses peculiar 
interest. The west bound commenced at the east channel of the 
river, or Wekasoak brook, as it was called, opposite Tyng's Island, 
now in possession of the Country Club. The line ran from this 
point about a mile in a northeasterly direction, crossing Scarlet's 
brook, thence in a southeasterly course 536 rods to a point near 
the junction of Westmeadow road with Varnum Avenue. Thence 
it must have run on or near Varnum Avemxe 112 rods to an 
angle south of the Lowell General Hospital. From this point it 
turned 67 rods to the river, perhaps a few rods westerly of the 


mouth of Clay Pit brook crossing the east end of the Boulevard. 
With the liberal measurements of those days it is likely that 
these distances exceeded the recorded figures. 

Another deed dated January 10, 1664, records the sale by 
John Evered alias Webb of Drawcutt on Merrimack in the 
County of Norfolk to Richard Shatswell and Samuel Varnum of 
Ipswich for £400 one half of the farm of Drawcutt aforesaid 
"except the fields and the houses, barnes structures edifices and 
buildings and the garden, the field mentioned to be called the 
upper field and three acres of the lower field below the log 
fence next the barne to containe 1100 acres. ' ' 

Of the grantors and grantees in these two deeds we have little 
knowledge except Samuel Varnum, who became a settler. They 
appear to have been speculators, who for convenience erected 
buildings for shelter until they could dispose of their holdings. 
Varnum purchased as above recorded in 1664, but there is proof 
that he lived on the Chelmsford side of the river. 

Four years later, Edward Colburne of Ipswich, a former 
neighbor of Samuel Varnum, purchased, Sept. 30, 1668, of John 
and Mary Webb for £1300 the remainder of their land, "Com- 
monly called and known by the name of Dracut on the Merri- 
mac." It was bounded by the Merrimack river on the south, by 
Richard Shatswell on the east, by Shatswell and Varnum on the 
northeast. Colburn was to pay "two thirds in wheat and malt 
and one third in beef, pork, and Indian corn." This transaction, 
like many others, was conducted by barter, owing to the scarcity 
of money. Varnum and Colburn became permanent residents 
upon the property, a part of which still remains in possession of 
their descendants. 

The Billerica Grant — 800 Acres 

Lying to the north of the military grant was a grant to 
the town of Billerica. This town had petitioned for aid, and in 
answer the court granted 4000 acres, of which 800 laid within 
the bounds of Dracut. The record of the laying out, June 6, 
1663, gives the length of boundary lines and mentions ad- 
joining properties, Mr. Dummer's farm in Dunstable, Mr. 
Webb's farm. Long Pond, "Mascuppet" pond. Tray Table Rock, 


etc., from which data the tract can be located. It included 
Lakeview Park and the easterly end of Willow Dale, the most 
of Huckleberry hill and extended northward to the southeast 
end of Long Pond. The easterly angle of the grant must have 
been between Totman and Mammoth roads. This tract was soon 
purchased by "Webb and later by Edward Golburn and Samuel 
Varnum who became owners of the military grant, as Richard 
Shatswell sold his share to them. 

The Batter Grant 

Edmond Batter was a prominent man in Salem, and apply- 
ing for a tract of land was given a location in the "Wilder- 
nesse." "3 m 1662 Layd out to Edmond Batter of Salem two 
hundred and fifty acres of land, more or lesse, in the Wildernesse 
on the north side of Merrimacke River and on the west of Beaver 
Brooke beginning at a place called Double Brooke Meadow, it 
Joynes to Beaver Brooke about sixty two poles, it lyeth forty 
two pole wide at the South^ end and so lyeth on both sides of 
Alewive Brooke and reacheth up to a great pond commonly 
called Long Pond w* lyeth in the way between Patucket & 
Jeremies Hill." As it reached from Long pond to Beaver 
brook it is easy to locate it. 

There is no stream corresponding to Alewive brook, unless 
the branch of Double brook coming in from the west was so 
called. The tract probably laid on each side of Double brook 
covering desirable meadows. There are many references to this 
brook and it is often spelt ' ' Dubble. ' ' The tract would lie west 
of what is now Collinsville and included the farm of Joseph P. 

Grant to John Martyn 

"21 Oct 1663 In answer to the petition of John Martyn, 
the Court judgeth it meete to grant the petitioner 100 acres of 
upland, to be layd out lying next to Ensign John Evered alias 
Webb his land." "18 May 1664 Layd out to John Martyn of 
Chelmsford 100 acres of land, more or less, on the north of 
Merrimack river, bounded by the said river on the south 97 pole 


and by the Indian plantation on the east 143 pole and from 
thence it runs to Mr. Webbs farme, which lyne is 200 & 10 
pole, bounded there by the wildernesse, and on the west side 
it is bounded by Mr. "Webbs farme. 

Laid out by Jona. Danforth, Surveyor, The Court doth allow 
and approve of this return." 

This tract must have included the site of the Lowell General 
Hospital and Flag Meadow brook and assists in determining 
the west bound of the Indian reservation. The grant later came 
into possesion of the Varnums. 

The Indian Reservation 

In 1653, John Eliott, fearing the encroachment of white 
settlers upon the Indian villages at Pawtucket and Wamesit, 
petitioned the General Court for a reservation of land for them. 
In answer the Court granted, under date of May 18, 1653, a 
tract on both sides of the river and covering the most of what 
is now Lowell. 

Five hundred acres were laid out on the north side of the 
river. No plan is on file nor any description of the laying out 
of the five hundred acres, but it reached from the river near 
the head of the falls to Beaver Brook above Meadow bridge. 
A deed of transfer of adjacent property shows the northern 
bound to have reached to Long Pond, from which angle it 
turned southerly to Merrimack river. It was certainly bounded 
westerly near the river by Martyn 's grant. 

In 1686, the Indians sold their land to Jonathan Tyng and 
Thomas Hinchman, who in turn sold it to fifty inhabitants of 
Chelmsford. The tract became known as "Chelmsford" land 
and later came into possession of Thomas, John and Joseph 
Varnum, the sons of Samuel Varnum. This included all the 
land from the Navy Yard to the boulevard and from the Merri- 
mack to the paper mill. 

Thus by the purchase of the five grcints already described 
the Varnums and Colburns owned from Tyng's Island to Beaver 
brook and from the river to Long Pond. The divisional line 
between the properties belonging to these two families on the 


river appears to have been a little above the Thomas Varnum 
farm, opposite the Old Meadow road. This seems highly- 
probable, as the land west of this line was Colburn land, while 
on the east it was Varnum land and portions of it are still in pos- 
session of the descendants of the original owners bearing those 

Edward Colburn divided his property between his seven 
sons and one daughter, who had married Thomas Richardson. 

These sons, whose names are given in another chapter, came 
into possession of the property, but were not all settlers on it 
as one, Robert, lived at Beverly and among his numerous 
descendants none are found in Dracut or vicinity. As these 
several divisions of land contained a large number of acres 
they, in the next generation, were again divided and passed 
from father to sou but the incorporation of Lowell and the intro- 
duction of railroads has made a great change in the farms of the 
early- days. Streets and dwelling houses now occupy the corn 
fields and forests. 

The Russell Grant 

Richard Russell came from Herefordshire, England, in 1640, 
to Charlestown and engaged in business as a merchant. He 
soou became prominent in the affairs of the Colony. As his 
ability was recognized, he was advanced from one office to another 
of more responsibility, becoming finally treasurer of the Colony. 
A tract of land having been assigned him, the report of the 
survey is : "12 November 1659 Layd out to Mr. Richard Russell 
Treasurer one thousand and sixe hundred acres of land, on the 
northerne side of Merremacke River in the wildernesse, begin- 
ning right over against Wajmesicke, being bounded with Beaver 
Brooke on the west, Merremacke River on the south, the wilder- 
nesse elsewhere soiirrounding, acording to marked trees, as is 
more fully demonstrated by a plott taken of the same well is on 
file by Jonathan Duuf orth Surveyor. ' ' The original plan is on 
file in the State archives. This is further described as: "a 
parcell of land gravinted in the yeare sixteene hi;ndred & fifty to 
Robert Saltonstall in right of Sir Richard Saltonstall for 
fower hundred povmds lajd out by him in ye comon stocke, 
provided that Mr. Russell shall and is hereby engaged to secure 


the countrje from auy challenge weh shall or may be made to 
the land herein mentioned by the heirs or executors of the sd 
Robt Saltonstall or any other as by any right from him. ' ' 

Thus is seems that the Court gave an equivalent to a quit- 
claim deed and placed the responsibility of a challenge on 
Mr. Russell, but no record of any such challenge has been found. 
The grant to Saltonstall was 3000 acres and apparently it had 
not been laid out before Russell petitioned for a portion. There 
is no reason to suppose that the remainder of the Saltonstall 
grant was within the bounds of Dracut. 

The east line of the Russell Grant commenced at the river 
about opposite the Gen. Butler residence, thence running over 
Christian hill, practically on the line of Beacon street, crossing 
Willard street, and forming the east bound of the Clough 
place, it reaches the Common at the Center, a little east of 
the Yellow Meeting house and near the line of the horse sheds 
and "Widow Masseys well," on the north side of Arlington 
street. It follows the old highway (Chapman street) to Fox 
avenue, thence on the west of Albert Pox's house to Eugene 
Fox's house, a few feet westerly of it. The north end is in a 
wall about forty rods south of the Marsh Hill road. 

The north line of the grant r\ins somewhat south of the 
west through the woods above the rifle range to an angle south- 
east of the Selden Colburn house. Then turning southwesterly 
it reaches Beaver brook, near the site of the paper mill. Thence 
in a line about a mile long, partly on the brook, but taking in 
30 acres on the west side, it reached the river a little west of the 
mouth of the brook. 

In 1671, Russell sold one half of the grant to John Alcock. 
In 1687 a division was made by the surveyors between James 
Russell, the son of Richard, and the Alcock heirs. October 15, 
1701, Rvissell sold his half (the eastern portion) to Gov. Jonathan 
Belcher. The deed states that the tract "was formerly improved 
by John Whittacur on account of the above said partners both be- 
fore and after division." "The division begins at a stake by 
Meremack river a little to the southward of the place where said 
Whittacur dwelt by the Brookside and from thence across Wil- 
kinsons Brooke east 30 degrees northerly 96 pole to another stake 
and from thence to run two miles norward four and a half ( 


westward parallel with the outside line which is the eud of the 
said farme at a stake, and from thence one hundred aud thirty 
eight pole betwixt the parallel lines to a Pillar of stones which 
is the corner of said ffarme and from thence to run parallel with 
the former line, being 136 pole wide and three miles wanting 
40 poles long on the outside to a Walnutt Tree near Merrimack 
River and so to butt on ye sd River southerly till it come to ye 
stake below the place where Whittacur dwelt." Wilkinsons 
brook was later known as Richardsons brook from families of 
that name who settled on it. In recent years it has been turned 
into a sewer. It ran under Hildreth street westerly but curved 
south and easterly and it entered the river a few rods above 
Central bridge. 

The ' ' 96 pole " ' line must have started at the river near the 
eastern end of Bunker Hill, so called, and have run to a point 
on Hildreth street near the Warner Coburn house where the 
street curves to the east. Belcher's purchase would cover from 
Beacon street to Hildreth street, as far north as Aiken avenue, 
and a strip through Dracut Centre to the western slope of 
Marsh Hill. June 11, 1709, the heirs of John Alcock sold their 
share of the 1600 acres to Ephraim Hildreth of Chelmsford. 

"Butted and bounded upon Merrimack River upon a ditch 
which divides it from the land of Jonathan Belcher easterly. 
Southeasterly by a Burrough called formerly Whittakers 
Burrough. ' ' 

Mr. Whittaker then may be considered as the first dweller 
in Centralville and the first tiller of its soil. Hildreth 's purchase 
will be further described under the head of a following grant to 
Billerica. Governor Belcher di^nded his share into hoase lots 
and sold to John Colburn, Josiah Richardson, Ephraim Hildreth, 
Hugh Jones aud others. The RiLssell grant included all of 
Centralville west of Beacon street, Dracut Centre and the Navy 
Yard village as far as the northerly end of the rifle range. 

The Billerica Grant of 1667 

Two tracts of land within the limits of the town were 
granted to the town of Billerica. One has been described lying 
east of Tyng's pond, while the other was located on the east 
side of Beaver brook. The surveyor's report is as follows: 


"Laj'd out to Billirieca five hundred acres of land in the 
wildernesse, on ye North side of Merimack River and on the 
east side of Beaver Brooke a little below Patucket. It is bounded 
on the south and ye southeast wholly by lands formerly granted 
to Richard Russell esquire and on ye west by ye aforesaid beaver 
brooke elsewhere by the wildernesse, ye line on ye east side of it 
is 196 pole in length running half a point westward of ye north 
which is (exactly) j^e continuance of ye long line on j'e east side 
Mr. Russels farme, als both the lines on the north side of it 
are exactly parallel to ye lines on the south side of it, the most 
northerly of which is 165 pole longe & runs one half a point 
westward of ye southwest, the other line runes two degrees 
westward of ye Southwest & by South four hundred and eighty 
seaven pole, which closeth to the brooke all which are sufQciently 
bounded by mark 't trees and pillars of stone. ' ' 

This includes all the land lying between the south line of Mr. 
Pinacom's farm and the south line of the late Selden Colbums 
farm. West of Hildreth street it includes all between the cross 
road leading from Hildreth street to the paper mill and Elmer 
Coburn's at New Boston village, also all lying between the 
paper mill and Jesse Cobum's house. The east line extended 
from a point on Marsh Hill south of the road, and running a 
few rods east of the Augustus Coburn house to a point in the 
meadows northeast of the house and near the state line. From 
this point running westerly it formed the southerly bound of the 
Elijah Coburn farm, part of which is owned by Mr. Pinacom. 

In 1694, the town of BiUerica exchanged this property with 
Palsgrave Alcock, son of John Alcock, for a similar tract within 
the bounds of that town. In 1709, the Alcock heirs sold this 
grant of 500 acres with one half of the Russell grant, a total of 
1300 acres, to Ephraim Hildreth, as before stated. Hildreth 
divided his property and sold land to Ebenezer Goodhue, Josiah 
Richardson, several of the Colbums and others. Some of this 
property still remains in possession of the Hildreth heirs. 


The Tyng Grant 

Hon. Edward Tyng was a man of prominence in the Colony, 
and father of Jonathan Tyng of Tyngsboro, at whose home he 
died in 1681. In 1660 he had a grant of land, of which we find 
the following record : 

"3 mo 1660 Laid out to Mr. Edward Tyng of Boston Two 
hundred and fifty acres of land in ye wilderness on ye Northerne 
side of merimack River being butted and bounded by a farme 
laid out to Mr. Russell on ye south east, ye wildernesse elsewhere 
surrounding according to marked trees as is more fully 
demonstrated by a plott taken of ye same by Jona. Danforth 
Surveyor. 4 Oct 1660 Consented to by ye magistrates. 

Edwaed Rav7S0n" 

There is an error in this report, as Mr. Russell's line did not 
bound it on the south. The grant of 500 acres to the town of 
Billerica, which was made later, lies between Russell's and 
Tyng's. In 1664, Tyng exchanged this property with Capt. 
Webb for an equal number of acres on the west side of the river 
near Salmon brook in Dunstable. Webb sold the eastern half 
of his new piirchase to Shatswell and Varnum. A plot on file 
in the State office shows his divisional line from north to south, 
and bears this endorsement on the west-side: "Mr. Webbs share 
of that farm, ' ' and on the east, ' ' Ri Shatswell & Samuel Varnum 
their part of ye upland." The South line of the grant is un- 
marked, but is supposed to have commenced at the southwest 
corner of the farm now owned by William Finacom, from which 
it ran westerly about one half mile to a point northeasterly of 
the Benjamin Crosby house. The east line ran north from the 
Finacom corner one mile, forming the west line of the Finacom 
land (formerly Elijah Coburns) and the west line of the Gilbert 
Coburn farm in Pelham, N. H. The northeast corner is near the 
Beaver brook meadows on land formerly owned by William Lyon 
and called the "Island." The northwest corner is on the same 
island about seventy rods further west, where was located 
"Setchell's corner pine" mentioned in deeds and plans. The 
west line was near the Old Meadow road, so called, north of the 
Dana Coburn house. 


The divisional line is indicated part of the way by an old 
wall. There are no houses and but little cultivated land on this 
tract. On the southern end of this grant is located the spot 
where, in 1741, the two surveyors, Richard Hazzen and George 
Mitchell, commenced their surveys for the present State line, 
the former going west, and the latter to the ocean on the east, 
and where the Pine Tree monument marks the three mile limit 
from Pawtucket falls. 

The Webb Grant of 1665 

Before this date Tyng 's or Wieosuck island was in possession 
of the Indians. For those who desired to engage in agriculture 
it was an excellent location as, being surroiuided by water, 
the growing crops were secure from the devastation of wild 
animals. By the payment of a fine which had been imposed upon 
an Indian, Webb earned their gratitude and, by the consent of 
the General Court, purchased the island. But the Indians 
realizing their mistake applied to the Colonial authorities for 
re-instatement. The Court record is to this effect: "11 Oct 1665 
In ans"" to the petition of Nobstow, Wannalancet, Nonatomeuut, 
Indians, the Court judgeth it meete to grant Mr. John Evered 
alias Webb five hundred acres of land adjoining to his land now 
in his possession vpon condition that he release his right of 
interest in an Island in Merrimacke River called Wieosuck." 
' ' 15 May 1667 Layd out 500 acres of land in the wildernesse on 
the eastern side of Beaver Brooke joyning to land formerly 
granted to Mr Edward Tyng of Boston. Forty acres of it lyeth 
joyning to the most westerly angle of the forenamed farme and 
four hundred & twenty acres of it lyeth joyning to the east side 
of the aforesaid farme, and forty acres at the north end of the 
farme. All which joyneth together excepting onely one small 
parcell of about twenty & two acres in common between Beaver 
Brook and Mr. Tyngs farme aforesayd, otherwise Beaver Brook 
doe bound this land on the northwest from the most northerly 
corner of it which is upon the brooke, the other part of the 
farme is sufficiently bounded: but it lying so much skirting 
upon Mr Tings ffarme according to the nature of the grant and 
Mr Webbs desire." 


It is evident that the "Webb grant bounded or "skirted" 
Tyng's on the west, north and east. There is no plan now on 
tile, but the portion lying northwesterly and northerly of the 
Tyng land was called the Colburn Old Meadows, and of this a 
plan is preserved. The bulk of this grant laid on the east side 
of Tyng's covering the farm of William Finaeom and the Gilbert 
Coburn farm which were formerly one property, and embracing 
the stretch of meadows on the Coburn sawmill brook between 
the Marshhill farms and the Highland school district in Pelham. 
It probably reached eastward nearly to Burns' hill. The tract 
was long known as the Colburn New Meadow Farm. In 1668, 
after disposing of most of his Dracut property, Capt. Webb 
was drowned in Boston Harbor, and his wife sold the remainder 
of his holdings, much of which came into possession of the 

The Conant Grant 

"When the vessel which bore the first Governor of 
Massachusetts (Endicott) was entering the harbor of Salem, 
she was anxiously watched from the beach by four individuals 
styled in the quaint chronicles of the day as Roger Conant and 
his three sober men. Roger Conant and his three sober men 
waded into the water and bore him on their shoulders to land." 
(Extract from address of Dr. J. G. Palfrey at Danvers Cent. 
Celebration, 1852.) 

Roger Conant was the first settler of the name in New 
England. He was born in Devonshire in 1592 and came to this 
country in 1623. In 1625, he took charge of the Cape Ann 
settlements and with others founded the City of Salem, then 
called Naumkeag. He is said to have built the first house therein. 
In 1639, he was one of the deputies from Salem and was Justice 
of the Quarterly Court of Salem three years. He died in 1679. 
The Court record 8 June, 1671 is: "In answer to the petition 
of Roger Connant, a very auntient planter, the Court judgeth it 
meete to grant the petitioner two hundred acres of land where 
it is to be found out free from any former grant." 

Three years later, under date of May 28, 1674 the record 
reads: "Layd out to Mr. Roger Conant of Beverly alyas Ba.sse 


River one parcel of land in the wilderness on the eastern side 
of Merrimack River, two hundred acres of land be it more or 
less, lying adjoining to Mr Webbs five hundred acres and begins 
at a great pine tree marked with E which is the N. W. Corner of 
Mr Edward Tyngs farme and from this pine it rims eighty three 
degrees and a half westward from the North 130 pole which 
reacheth to Beaver Brooke, and from the same pine tree it runs 
eleven degrees westward from the South two hundred and fivety 
pole, from thence it runs eighty fower degrees and a halfe west- 
ward from the South one hundred and thirty two pole. The 
last line is parallel to the second line & eloseth to Beaver Brooke. 
The lines are all runne and several trees bounded with the rest 
well marked, it lyeth in the forme of a long square. Layd out 
by Jona. Danforth Surveyor 22 (3m) 1674." 

No plan is on file in the State archives, but one was found 
in possession of the late Sewell Crosby. It was drawn by James 
Ingalls, Surveyor, 1744, and shows a divisional line from east 
to west across the middle. The southeast corner, as pointed out 
by Mr. Crosby, is at a rock in a wall, seven or eight rods east- 
wardly of the Rockwood Cobum house, which is the only 
dwelling on the tract. The southwest corner is at a point in the 
woods north of the road from CoUinsville to New Boston Village, 
but not definitely located. The western line forms the eastern 
bound of the Clement farm and reaches to the brook a little north 
of Pelham line. The east line forms the west bound of the Dana 
Coburn farm. The north line is near the old Beaver brook 
meadows in Pelham. The tract passed into possession of the 
Colburns and was called the "Connet Farm." 

The Symonds Grant 

Samuel Symonds settled in Ipswich in 1637, and early held 
ofiice in the town and colony. He was Deputy Governor, 1673- 
1678. The Court granted him several tracts of land, one of 500 
acres being in Dracut. The record of the laying out is interest- 
ing: "7 May 1662 Layd out to the wor'pff" Mr Symons five 
hundred acres of land, more or lesse, in the wildernes on the 
north of Merrimacke River lying by the rivers side right over 
against Mrs. Margaret Winthrop farme of three thousand acres 


which lyeth in the bounds of Billirikey at the mouth of the 
Concord Ryver vpon a brooke called by the Indians Pophessgos- 
quockegg, beginning about one hundred and forty sixe pole 
below the sayd brook and so running from Merremacke vp into 
the country northwest & by north about fower hundred ninety 
fower pole, then running Southwest and by west about on 
hundred and ninety fower pole, then runing downe to Merri- 
macke againe wch west side of it is three hundred seventy three 
pole, and by Merremack River upon a crooked line two hundred 
and twelve but upon a square line one hundred and fifty fower 
pole which parcell of land is about fower and seventy acres ; also 
lajd out to him a parcell of meadow of about thirty acres lying 
in Small Spangs at the head of this fEarme, the which lyith w^^^in 
three quarters of a mile of the land. The whole is five hundred 
acres. ' ' 

The tract passed into the possession of Deane Winthrop 
and is still known by the name of ' ' Winthrops Farm. ' ' The name 
still lingers and it is not unusual to hear a farmer say that he is 
"going down to Winthrops." The east line is marked for part 
of its length by a stone wall. Commencing on the river about 
forty rods above the mouth of Varuums brook at Bell Grove, the 
line comes to the highway a few rods east of the Dana Richardson 
house and about forty rods east of Richardsons brook. North 
of the road it runs through a wooded section east and northeast 
of Loon hill. The west line was, beyond doubt the northeasterly 
bound of the Jonathan Pox farm, formerly the Ephraim Rich- 
ardson farm, and the southwesterly bound of the George Kelley 
farm. The stream which runs through this tract has been called 
Winthrops, Coburns, and latterly Richardsons brook. The 
Indian name Popliessgosquockegg, is thus defined by Gordon 
in his "Early Grants." "Pophessgo in an English attempt 
at spelling Papaska, a double hill, and Squockegg is a horrible 
travesty of Squamenguck, place to cure salmon." In one place 
on the records it is spelled Pohpossegosquohockegge. 

Winthrop farm passed into the joint ownership of Ephraim 
Hildreth and Josiah Colburn, the last named settled near the 
brook, where his descendants remained many years, but about 
1820 he sold to the Richardsons. The grant includes the Ken- 
wood section, the farms of R. Rhomberg and Geo. Kelley, Loon 


Hill and much woodland and meadow north and northeast of the 
hill. The thirty acres of meadow belonging to this grant laid 
adjoining on the north but is difficult of exact location. 

The Caldicot and Negus Grants 

' ' Laid out to Richard Colicutt of Boston 200 acres of land in 
the wilderness N. E. of merrimack lying upon Beaver Brook 
northward of Waymesick about 7 miles from Merrimack River. 
It lyeth upon the east side of said Beaver Brook beginning at 
ye mouth of a small Brook yt comes into ye said Beaver Brook, 
and so runs up ye said brook 230 poles bounded by ye said Brook 
on the west by a great white oak, from thence it runs E. N. E. 
217 poles which extends about 20 pole eastward of the aforesaid 
little brook unto a pine marked C, from thence it runs due 
South 30 poles, from thence it runs So. So West two hundred 
and seventy six poles which closeth to the mouth of the little 
Brook running into Beaver Brook. J. Danforth Surveyor." 

At the same time : ' ' Laid out to Jonathan Negus of Boston 
200 acres of land in the wilderness on the Nor East of Merrimack 
River upon a branch of Beaver Brook next adjoining to land 
lately lard out to Mr. Richard Collecut. It begins at a maple 
tree marked in a maple swamp in the South South west line of 
the said Collecuts farm, and so is bounded by the said farm on 
the west and extending 60 and 8 pole beyond the said farm due 
north unto a pillar of stones lying on the south side of a rocky 
hill & from thence it runs east by north 156 pole unto a pine 
marked with NTST from thence it runs due south 212 pole, from 
thence it runs due west 100 & 90 pole to the first maple which 
is the closing line." 

In 1682, the Negus grant was purchased by Peter Goulding 
of Boston, who sold it the same year but, very singularly, the 
tributary of Beaver Brook still retains the name of Goulding 's 
brook, sometimes corrupted to "Golden." A plot of both 
Negus and Caldicot grants is on file. None of the bounds have 
been located, but the Caldicot grant covered the land between the 
two brooks at their junction, and extending nearly to the Moodj^ 
Hobbs' farm on the road from Pelham Center to Windham. The 
Hobbs' road crosses Goulding 's brook and in a southeast direc- 
tion diagonally across the Negus grant to the Gage Hill road. 


There are probably no houses on either grant. Gage's or Island 
Pond brook runs through the Negus grant which was at one time 
owned by Thomas Robins and the brook was then called Robins' 

The Grant of 1693 

The settlers upon the grants near the river and west of 
Beaver brook had now obtained title to much of the land on 
that side of the brook, besides about a thousand acres on the 
east side of the brook. Between these properties was an ir- 
regularly shaped tract of many acres as yet claimed by no one, 
but which the settlers were obliged to traverse iu going from 
their homes to their lands farther from the river. With a shrewd 
foresight they now took measures to secure this tract for them- 
selves, and the fourteen heads of families thereupon presented 
a petition to the General Court. The petition: 

"Humbly sheweth That ye petitioners have been att great 
cost and paines in settling themselves upon their present Im- 
provements wch att their owne proper charge they purchased 
without haveing one foot thereof given them, besides have greatly 
Suffered in their persons and Estates by the heathen in the Last 
and the present warr, by fires, Killing and wounding of Sundry 
of their neighbours and otherwise They have been Greatly Im- 
poverished. And there being a tract or parcell of barren Wast 
or Woodland unimproved and not as yett Taken up by any, 
lyeing between the Lands and meadows of yr petitioners con- 
taineing about two hundred Acres extending the whole Length 
of their Lands as more particularly appears by the Draught 
thereof annexed thereto. And yr petitioners haveing noe out- 
lett or commons to their Lands for firewood or pasturing for 
their Cattle Finds it to be an Incredible Inconvenience to their 

Your Petitioners Therefore humbly prayes that yor 
Excellency and this honrd Court will please take the 
premise's into consideration and favor them, soe as that 
the said Tract of Land may be Granted aud Confirmed to 
them for the enlargement of Their streightened accom- 


And yr petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray. 

Thomas Varnum Daniel Rolfe 

Edward Coburne Thomas Richardson 

John Coburne Senr. Thomas Vernon 

Thomas Coburne Senr John Vernon 

Daniel Cobourne Joseph Vernon 

Ezra Coboume John Cobourne junr 

Joseph Cobourn Thomas Cobourne junr" 

The Court granted this petition Nov. 27, 1693. The three 
Vernon names were afterward erased and written Varnum in 
another hand. 

With the petition the following plan was filed 

Meadows of the 

Chandlere farmes on 
the northeast 

This small parcell is the land petitioned for. 


on ye Lands of the Petitioners 

West side 

.500 acres of 

Chelm.sford land 

adjoining on the east 

Merrimack River on the South 

There is probably an error in the copying of the drawing 
as Chandler's farms would lie on the northwest in Dunstable. 
The "500 acres of Chelmsford land" was the Indian Reserva- 
tion, already described. The 200 acres for which they petitioned 
was a very elastic term. It covered an imgranted tract adjoin- 
ing their homesteads on the north, all the land between Long 
pond and Beaver brook, also all of CoUinsville east of the brook, 
with New Boston district as far east and north as the lines of 
the Conant, Tyng and Billerica grants. Its south line would be 
near the paper mill and Meadow bridge. It was long known as 
the "Lands of the Fourteen Petitioners." This was divided 
among them. The last division appears to have been made in 
1718, and lotted out all of the CoUinsville and New Boston land, 


and some of the Long Pond lots, besides some of the meadow 
land on Beaver brook north of the "Webb grant, purchased of 
Solomon Wood. The Long pond lots reached from the pond to 
Beaver brook and contained thirty acres each, northward of the 
Batter Grant. 

The Reserved Lands 

No grants of land were made by the General Court in the 
territory of Dracut later than 1693. There still remained a large 
area of ungranted or wilderness land. In the resolve of the court 
granting the petitioners leave to lay out their township, we 
find the following condition, viz: "And that if any land shall 
happen to fall within the bounds aforesaid that hath not been 
heretofore granted, it shall be reserved to be disposed of by this 
Government. " ' 

Thus the town could occupy or dispose of this land only 
with the consent of the Court. There were reasons why the town 
should have this consent. The people wanted to build a meeting- 
house and support a minister, and revenues derived from this 
land directly and indirectly would prove of much benefit in the 
establishment of a church. Another reason was that they 
wanted to control the disposition of the land. Undesirable 
persons or squatters, as they were called, could occupy the land 
if unclaimed while if the town held the owner.ship legal means 
could be taken to eject them. No action was taken in relating 
to the granting of the lands until 1709. This antedates the town 
records by one j'ear and is all that is known of the action of the 
town from 1702 to 1710, as all records of the intervening time 
have disappeared. 

Under date of February 6, 1709, it is recorded that John 
Varnum, who was town clerk, by order of the town, petitioned 
the General Court for permission to dispose of the land. It is 
directed: "To his Excellency Joseph Dudley Esq. Captain- 
General and Governor-in-Chief, The Hon.ble the Council and 
Representatives in General Court assembled Feb. pro. 1709. 
The petition of John Varnum of Dracut within the County of 
Middlesex and others the Freeholders and Inhabitants of the 


said town Humbly sheweth etc ' ' Following the statement found 
in the petition and survey at the time of the incorporation of the 
town the body of the petition is: 

"Now so it may please your Excellency & this Hon.ble 
Assembly pursuant to a Clause in the aforesaid Grant that the 
Inhabitants of the said Land assist in the maintenance of the 
Ministry at Chelmsford as at present they do, until they are 
provided with a Alinister as the law directs, they have ac- 
cordingly paid the Ministry dues there. But being desirous to 
settle the Ministry & Gospel Ordinances among themselves as in 
dut}' bound, for their own benefit and advantage & the Benefit 
of their Families & posterity, have for two or three years past 
had some young Schollars, Candidates for the Ministry to preach 
unto them, and at present have young Mr. Cheever of Marble- 
head with them attending that Work with general acceptance 
and approbation & have good hopes they shall obtain him to 
settle among them if they can give him Encouragement. They 
therefore humbly pray, that it would please this Hon.ble 
Assembly for the better Enabling them so to do to Order and 
Grant that the reserved Land lying within the Boundaries 
aforesaid mentioned in the afore recited Order may be alotted 
to & among such as shall come to settle with them, as the Free- 
holders & proprietors may think fit. 

John Varnum" 

The answer was favorable and the following order re- 
turned : 

"Feb 6 1709 In Council, Read and Ordered that Colo. 
Jonathan Tyng Capt. John Lane Capt. Edward Johnson & Lieut. 
Hill with such as shall be added to them by the Representatives, 
be a committee to make enquiry into the Quantity of the 
Reserved Lands mentioned in the within recited order & make 
Report thereof to this Court at their next sitting & what number 
of Inhabitants it may be capable of entertaining to make a Strong 

Sent down in concurrence Isa Addington Sec 


In the House of Representatives Sep'r 7 1709 Read & 
Concurred & that Mr. John Stevens be added to the said 

John Clark Speaker 
J. WiLLARD See'ry." 

The report of the committee is indicated by the following 
action of the Court as copied iu the book of records of the 
town: "26 June 1710. Ordered that the eleven thousand acres 
of Reserved lands reported by the committee be added to the 
town of Dracut. " 

Apparently' the committee was instructed to lay out lots. 
Under date of November 27, 1710, we have: "The committee 
appointed agreed to lay out 15 lots and to lay out to each lot 
15 acres of meadow or good swamp land to make meadow and to 
make up the lots as .soon as any persons shall appear to take 
them up." 

Under date of May 15, 1712, in a report made to the 
committee by Joseph Vamum, Ephraim Hildreth and Samuel 
Danforth, who had been selected to lay out the lots it is re- 
coi'ded : ' ' We have laid out 300 acres for the ministry and one lot 
for the minister on the north of Beaver Brook near Tony 
Brook. There is about 250 acres laid out on the west of Gould- 
ings for the 7 lots upon Gumpas to make them equal with the 
River lots." 

The committee made a further report to the General Court, 
June 13, 1712 : 

"We have as report followeth laid out 300 acres for the 
ministry in said town, and 50 acres more adjoining unto it for 
the first settled minister in said towne, because we could find 
no convenient place for him in The Reserved lands for the 
settling of a minister, the former proprietors out of their own 
proper right have given 30 acres of land for a house lot to the 
first settled minister. Also we gave orders for the laying out 
of 200 acres for the school in said town, and we have laid 23 
house lots in the reserved lands 15 of these we laid out in a 
small tract of land which lyeth on the great river below, 15 
acres of meadow or muck meadow to each lot, and these lots 
ordered to pay 17 shillings a piece yearly to the support of the 


ministry & 40 shillings each for the defraying charges expended 
and shall be expended. We have laid out 8 lots more remote 
which lots we order to pay 10 shillings yearly to the support 
of the ministry in said town & 20 shillings each lot for defraying 
charges. Further we have granted to the several 15 acres of 
meadow land the full 30"' part of the Reserved lands in said 
town proportional for small lots. Agreed and concluded that 
no persons shall make sale of his or their lot or lots taken up 
as above said without leave first had and obtained power from 
the General Courts committee then being or the selectmen of 
the said Town of Dracut or the major part of them, and that 
these residents or said proprietors as to the selling of the above 
said shall cause and determine their being accepted and 
approved of as settled inhabitants of the said Town of Dracut. 

JoNA Tyng 

John Lane 

John Stearns." 

The records of the town are supplemented by a small volume 
known as the Proprietors' records, still preserved among the 
town archives in its original form, bound in boards and covered 
with sheepskin. The opening of these tracts to the settlers 
attracted the attention of citizens of the towns already in ex- 
istence and the committee was obliged to exercise its judgment 
in the acceptance of these parties who, it was hoped, would 
add materially to the numbers and welfare of the town. In 
the majority of cases the families who came were desirable and 
while some are known only by name to the present generation, 
others have remained and been instrumental in the upbuilding 
of the town. The committee did not allow color to debar any one 
from becoming a citizen if he appeared desirable in other 
respects. One negro, to whom reference will be made, was 
accepted and granted several lots. 

These lot owners were called Proprietors and the old book 
at the town office, to which reference has been made, is called 
the Proprietors' Record and the old road on Marsh Hill which 
has been discontinued as a highway is called the Proprietors' 
road. Many of these lots were bounded by marked trees or heaps 


of stones which disappeared long ago and only the general loca- 
tion can be determined. The first entry on the Proprietors ' book 
is as follows: 

"We do except of ye parsons within named, to be Pro- 
prietors of the Reserved Land in the Township of Dracutt and 
do order their Loots and thir Nams to be entered in the Book 
of records for Dracutt accordingly, Jonathan Tyng, John Lane, 
John Stearns. 

This is a trew Coppy of the General Corts order. 
Wittnas Ouer Hands 

Joseph Vabnum 


James Fales" 

"These are the names of the men that have the Loots now 
in possession with ye consent of ye General Corts Committee and 
sum that have sould to others with ye consent of ye Selectmen of 
the Town of Dracut. Selectmen : John Varnum, Joseph Colbon, 
Ebenezer Goodhue. 

Benjamin Barans 1 Ebenezer Goodhue 2 Ezekiel Cheever 
3 James Colbon 4 Benjamin Hoore 5 Ebenezer Wright 6 
Onesimus (Onesiphorus) Marsh 7 Benjamin Barans 8 Solo- 
mon Wood 9 Josiah Richardson 10 Nathaniel Fox 11 An- 
thony Neggerow 12 Ezekiel Cheevers 13 William Reed 14 
Nathaniel Cheevers 15 Samuel Prime 16 John Higginson. 
These are the fifteen that Lye between mr. Belchers Farme and 
mr. Winthrips Farme and every man's nam is seet to his Loot. 
Samuel Prime, his Loot Lyes below mr. Winthrip 's Farme Lying 
on Merrimack river. John Higginson 's Loot lyes on merrimack 
river below samuel Prime's Loot. Ministers Loot and ministers 
Farme lies at Gompos on ye north sid of bever Brook. Solomon 
Wood's Loot lies on Gompos Brooke. George Brouen 2 Joseph 
Crosby 3 Ezekiel (Cheevers) 4 Callup (Caleb) BaUe 5 John 
HajTsvard Cheyuey Flage these two Loot Lye on the north sid 
of Bever Brook west of the ministers Farme. Solomon Wood, 
his Loot Lyes on ye east Side of Bever Brook and on j^e north 
sid of ye Colbous ould Meddowes. John Barans, hesacaah 
Townasane, Joseph Whittier these three Loots lye north of mr. 


Winterips Farme." These are recorded in the Proprietors 
Kecord which bears the following endorsement: Dracutt March 
ye 5^^ 1733-4. This Book Delivered To Nathaniel Fox Pro- 
prietors Clark To Record in the Proprietors Book all that is 
Written in the within Written Book Delivered To him By us the 

Joseph Varnum ] 

Ephraim Curtis [. Committee" 

Nathaniel Fox J 

The record of the river lots was later placed upon the town 
book, which gives the number of acres to each lot varying from 
36 to 60 acres and totalling about 700 acres. Their dimensions are 
only to be ascertained from subsequent deeds of transfer. Many 
of these lots changed hands several times and became di\aded. 
A brief notice will be given of the original proprietors and their 
lots as far as known. As before stated, the owners were required 
to pay 17 shillings yearly. 

The first lot was laid out to Benjamin Barans or Barron. 
The family was here at the time of the Revolution, when five of 
the names appear on the rolls of American Soldiers. The lot 
passed in 1750 into possession of Richard Thissell or Thistle, 
who settled upon it, and his descendants remained there many 
years. It was bounded on the west by the line of the Russell 
Grant or practically Beacon street. Laid out as 44 acres it was 
sold to Thissell as 50, showing the liberal measurements of the 
times. It bounded 30 rods on the river and extended 400 rods 
northward, or nearly to the junction of Beacon and Willard 
streets where it was 9 rods in width. 

The second lot, Ebenezer Goodhue 's, contained 46 acres. He 
has direct descendants in town at the preesnt time. The third 
lot was Bzekiel Cheever's of Salem, and contained 46 acres. This 
family was prominent in Dracut, the last of the name, Hannah 
Cheever, passing away in 1894 at the old Cheever homestead, 
then owned and occupied by Charles Hazen Stickney. The 
fourth lot was James Colburn's, who had 46 acres. He was a 
grandson of Edward, who came from Ipswich. Benjamin Hoar 
of Concord had the fifth lot, 45 acres, but he early sold to Ben- 
jamin Barron. 


Parts of the second, third, fourth and fifth lots passed into 
the possession of Benjamin Wood and his sons, a prominent 
family in the town. Bbenezer "Wright of Chelmsford had the 
sixth lot, 46 acres; he also bought some of the other lots. He 
appears to have been a resident of Dracut for a time, but sold 
his property and in 1723 was a resident of Dunstable. The seventh 
lot, 50 acres, was laid out to Onesiphorous Marsh (called Onesi- 
mus on the record) . He was from Bradford, but settled in Dracut 
on other land which had been laid out to him. The eighth lot 
was laid out to Benjamin Barron, owner of the lot. It con- 
tained 60 acres. It passed into possession of John Barron of 
Concord, who removed here and probably settled on the north 
end of the lot, and was succeeded by his son, Eliseus, who lived 
near the northerly end of Tenth street. The ninth lot was laid 
out to Solomon Wood of Bradford, who had other lots laid out 
to him, all of which he sold and never became a resident of the 
town so far as known. 

The tenth lot was laid out to Josiah Richardson and con- 
tained 50 acres. He was from Chelmsford and died in 1711, 
and the following year his son Josiah, was granted permission 
by tlie town to settle on the lot. In 1727, he purchased of Jona- 
than Belcher a large tract of land in the former Russell Grant 
in Centralville, on which he is known to have resided. He is 
said to have sold one half of this lot in 1712 to his cousin, Joseph, 
son of Thomas Richardson, who had a ferry across the Merri- 
mack. If so, he did not retain it very long, for he was a resi- 
dent in 1715 of Bradford. The eleventh lot of 50 acres was laid 
out to Nathaniel Fox of Concord. From the town records we 
have the following: "July ye last day 1714 Mr. Fox came to 
Dracut." He was the ancestor of the Fox family which has 
numbered amongst its members many worthy citizens. His river 
lot passed through many hands and was at one time called the 
John Cheever farm. The twelfth lot was owned by Anthony, 
the Negro, who exchanged it with Ezekiel Cheever for a lot of 
50 acres on the Cedar pond road, or Haverhill path as it was 
sometimes called. 

The thirteenth lot was Ezekiel Cheever 's, 46 acres. The 
fourteenth lot was William Reed 's of Chelmsford. The fifteenth 
river lot was laid out to Nathaniel Cheever, 36 acres. He ob- 


tained the ownership of the southern portion of the twelfth, thir- 
teenth alid fourteenth lots which, with the southerly part of the 
fifteenth, he sold to Josiah Richardson of the fourth generation 
and owner of the tenth lot. His purchase was inherited by his 
son, Ephraim. It was long known as the Ephraim Richardson 
farm, being owned by three generations of that name and later 
known as the Jonathan Fox farm, now owned by his son, John 
C. Fox. 

As previously stated in the report of the committee, 15 acres 
of meadow were granted to each lot and later other tracts were 
granted to these proprietors. Eastward of these fifteen lots was 
the grant to Samuel Symons (Winthrop farm), already de- 
scribed. Below this grant on the river was a lot of 60 acres laid 
out to Samuel Prime of Rowley, who had, in addition, other 
tracts of land laid out to him, some of which adjoined his 60 
acres. He sold his land to Joseph Varnum, whose son, Samuel, 
later married Prime's daughter, Mary. Joseph Varnum had 
other land laid out to him in this vicinity and acquired more by 
purchase. In 1737, he deeded to his son Samuel: "700 acres in 
the easterly part of Draeut commonly called and known as the 
Prime lot, bounded south by Merrimack river, west by Winthrop 
farm and by land I have given my son John Varnum. ' ' A plan 
of this farm is on file. It laid over two hundred rods on the 
river, from the line of the Winthrop farm on the west to the 
Higginson line at Deer Jump. It was somewhat fan shaped and 
reached northward over a mile to a point north of the nickel 
mine, including Belle Grove and the Old Varnum farms on the 
Methuen road. 

Next, below Varnum 's land on the river, was a lot of 200 
acres laid out to the Rev. John Higginson of Salem, a very schol- 
arly man and one of the best writers of his time, as well as an 
eloquent preacher. Some poet has written : — 

"With him Gospel and Deeds each had its column. 
His head an index of the Sacred Volume, 
His very name a title page ; and next 
His life a commentary on the text." 

In 1742, the lot was purchased by Timothy Parker, thus 
introducing that numerous family into Draeut. The lot was 


bounded on the river 180 rods from Vamum line at Deer Jump 
to the east line of the town and extending northward one mile 
to the nickel mine. Thence the line ran northeasterly parallel 
with the river to the town line. Thus briefly stated is the names 
of the original lot owners in that portion of Dracut on the river 
through which is the electric road over which the cars pass be- 
tween Lowell and Lawrence. 

The tract of two hundred acres laid out for the support of 
schools has been identified. It extended from the Cedar pond 
road on Marsh Hill southward to Fox Avenue, and from Belcher's 
east line which was in the vicinity of the old highway west of 
Dracut reservoir, eastward to the J. Wallace Thissell house, now 
owned by Henry Fox. The northwest corner was near the house 
of Eugene C. Fox. It was divided into fifteen lots. The first three 
covered the Samuel Worcester farm now owned by D. Stedman 
Fox. The Hildreth and Fred Fox farms lying on the east were 
for the most part included in this tract. The Cedar pond (now 
Peters pond) road is at present a right of way, it being super- 
seded as a highwa.y when the present Marsh Hill road was 
opened; it runs at right angles with the old road and is known 
as The Proprietors' road. On the northwest of Beaver brook in 
the triangle between the brook and Dunstable line were laid out 
the seven Gumpus or Gumpsted lots of fifty acres each, as men- 
tioned. According to the record of 1710, the owners were : George 
Brown and Joseph Crosby of Billerica Caleb Ball John Hay- 
ward and Cheney Flagg of Concord. They disposed of their lots. 
Zechariah Colburn purchased Flagg 's lot and Benjamin Rich- 
ardson became the owner of Hayward's. They laid north 
of Collinsville. 

Referring to the report made by the men who laid out the 
lots, we find a lot of 300 acres and another of 50 acres north of 
Beaver brook near Tony brook. They seem to have been con- 
sidered as Ij'ing in the Gumpus district, but if they were near 
or opposite Tony brook, which enters Beaver brook from the east 
a few rods below the Abbott bridge, which is the stone bridge 
south of Pelham centre, they may have included the south part 
of Pelham which lies west of Beaver brook and extended north 
to the center of the town. These were the ministers' farm and 
ministers ' lot. In the same report we find ' ' 8 lots more remote, ' ' 


but they cannot be identified. In 1716, the Proprietors were 
desirous of dividing the remainder of the reserved lands and 
petitioned Jonathan Tyng, a Justice of the Peace, to call a 
meeting of the Proprietors, which he proceeded to do. The war- 
rant is given on account of its being a literary curiosity and 
shows the manner of writing and spelling which was common 
two centuries ago. No marks of punctuation seem to have been 

"To Capt Joseph Varnum of Dracutt in the County of Mid- 
dlesex yeoman greeting whereas application to me Jonathan 
Tyng one of his majisties justes of the peace within sd County 
By five of the Propriators of the common or undivided Land of 
sd Town Praying for a warrent to Call a Proprietor meeting 
Showing By Sundry Weighty Reasons That There is Great ne- 
sesity of the same for the ordering and Desposing of the Common 
Land as aforesd. 

I Do Therefore Pursuant To The Direction of the Law ap- 
point the Last Thursday of March Currant for the Propriety as 
aforesd To meet at the house of the A Bove sd Capt Varnum 
at Two of the oclock in the afternoon For the Ends Following. 

To chuse a Propriaty Clark according to Law. (2) To chuse 
a committee or Agents To mannag in Behalf of the Proprietors. 
(3) To a Gree how to Despose of aney Part of sd Land as Shall 
Be Thought best when mett Together. (4) To agree how to call 
a propriators meatings for the futer I Do also order and Direct 
that you the a Bove sd Joseph Varnum Do Post up a Copey or 
Copies of these orders is some publick Place or Places of the sd 
Town Fourteen Days Before sd meating That all the Propriators 
may be Duly Notified To meat For The ends aforesd hereof Pail 
not Dated March ye U^^ 1715-16 

Jonathan Tyng, Justis Peace" 

The return of the warrant is brief. 

"Dracut March ye 29 1715-16 In Observation To The 
■Hathin "Writt I have Notified the Proprietors of the undivided 
land in Dracut as within Mentioned To meat Time and place 

Joseph Vaknum." 


A record of the meeting may be found in the Proprietors' 
Record book at the Dracut Town ofQce. It is here reproduced, 
a few of the legal terms being omitted for the sake of brevity. 

"At a Ginerall meating of the Propriators of the common 
and undivided Land Beloning to the Township of Dracutt con- 
vened the Last thursday in March 1716 By Vertue of a warrant 
from the honorable Colonel Jonathan Tyng Esqr Justic of the 
Peace in Middx Diricted to Cap" Joseph Varnum Bareing Dait 
ye 14th Day of March 1715-16 the Propriators Being mett at 
the House of Cap" Joseph Varnum at the Time and Place Pre- 
fixed in the sd worron. 

Made choice of Ezekiel Cheever of Salem for the moderator 
of this meating to mannage the several things contained in sd 

lly Coarsen for a Clark Nathaniel Fox. 

2Iy Chosen for a committee as they shall agree upon Mr. 
George Brown of Bilricah Capt Joseph Varnum Ezekiel Chever 
Mr Nathaniel Fox Mr. James Fails. 

31y Voted this committee now chosen shall go upon the un- 
divided Land that is not yet laid out and Lay it out into Two 
Squadrons and the Land that Lyeth nearest Vnto the River 
Shall Be Laid out for the Lots that are Laid out upon the River 
and that Land that Lyeth next the Gumset Lotts Shall Be Laid 
out for the Gumsett Lotts a Lowing them the Land that was over 
for them which is not yet Laid out so answer the 13 acres that 
was Laid out the Each River Lott. 

41y Voted that there shall be a considerable Quantite of 
upland Laid out by this Commity unto each mans medow of 
that Land that Lyeth aBout his meadows for his Better accom- 
modation according to the quantity of meadows that each man 
haith and so much upland ay man haith Laid out to his meadow 
shall Be Reackond to him as so much of his share of undivided 

Sly Voted that when the Land is Laid out into Squadrons 
then there shall Be an Hundred and Thirty acres Laid out for 
each mans Lott of more if the Committee shall judge it best to 
lay out more at first and aU the Rest of the Vndivided Land 
Which Remains after the meadows are accomedaited with what 


the committee shall judge suitable and conveanant to Be Laid 
out to them and the 130 acres Laid out each mans Lett and all 
that Remains shall Be Laid out at the next laying out Be it 
more or less. 

61y Voted that this committee or the major Peart of them 
are fully Impowered To Layout all the Vndivided Land as soon 
as couvenently Be Done and they shall Be aLowed four shillings 
a Day By the Propriators for the servise herein. 

71y Voted this committee are Impowered to sell some of 
this Land that is not yet Divided To pay the charge of Lajing 
out this Land if they see cause and the sale to Be Posted up in 
some publick place. 

Sly Voted That For The Time To come any two of the com- 
mittee and the Clark shall have Power to call a Propriator meat- 
ing By setting up a Notification in some Publick Place fourteen 
Days Before sd meating. 

91y Voted that this committee shall have Power to imploy 
the Surveir or artis in Laying out this Land so much as shall Be 
needful & the Propriators to Bear the charge of it. lOly Voted 
that this committee shall Have full Power To Lay out what High 
Ways thay shall judge needful Illy It is votted and aGreed 
upon that no man shall Debar an other From coming to his 
medows But Every man shall have .sufficiant Liberty To come 
to his meadows For moing and makeing and careing of his hay. 
These are the several things that were a Greed upon at this 
meating and Uoted With a clear and unanimous Uote. 

Atest EzEKiEL Cheeveb moderator of sd meating a Trew 
Copey ATeste Nathaniel Fox. 

Propriety Gierke." 

The remainder of the book contains records of lots of land 
laid out and the locating of roads. Many of the lots are im- 
possible to locate and a general description only can be given. 
The expressions "for quantity and quality" are often used, 
which implies that the number of acres laid out to a proprietor 
were governed somewhat by the value. With arable land, a 
generous tract of meadow or swamp that could be made into 
meadow, was provided. With these a liberal amount of wood- 
land was assigned, which though not as valuable was necessary 


for their wood and timber. The English government reserved 
every straight pine tree above a certain size, marking it with 
a broad arrow. These were to furnish masts for the Royal Navy, 
and a penalty was attached for their destruction except by 
officers who had authority to cut them. This may to some ex- 
tent account for the fact that so much oak timber was used for 
frames for buildings. 

Northward of the lots described as lying on the river and 
east of the Russell Grant, the line, as stated, crossing Central- 
ville Heights and near Dracut Center Church building, was a 
large territory. The 200 acre lot has been described. Opposite 
this, on the south of Fox avenue, was a tract of 49 acres, divided 
into eight lots. It extended from the old highway opposite 
Albert Fox's house, now Chapman street, to the line of the farm 
formerly owned by Calvin Richardson. 

Eastward of these lots and extending to the east line of 
the town, there were lots assigned to different ones, amongst 
them Nathaniel Fox, whose descendants in the seventh genera- 
tion occupy them, "William Colburn, who lived near the Wallace 
Thissell farm; Ephraim Curtis, who lived at the farm now 
owned by Mr. Daigle ; Joseph Varnum and Onesiphorous Marsh, 
who settled on their lots. Commencing at the line of the Billerica 
Grant, near Frank P. Fox's, and running eastwardly over Marsh 
and Burns' Hills to the vicinity of the Corliss Smith farm, was 
a range of twelve or more lots. They were bounded south on 
the Cedar Pond road, which is north of the Dracut reservoir and 
north on the Colburn New Meadow Farm, which was the 
meadows lying north of Marsh Hill. 

Beginning at the west end, the first lot of 50 acres was laid 
out to Nathaniel Fox and Onesiphorous Marsh. The last named 
evidently sold to Fox, where descendants are now in possession; 
it included the Darius L. Fox farm. Then in succession from 
west to east the proprietors were John Barron, Benjamin Wood, 
Anthony Negro, Ephraim Curtis, Ezekiel Cheever, and Ebenezer 
Thornton. The last named had the seventh and eighth lots of 
62 acres each. Beyond these lots the owners were Cheever, 
Thornton, Marsh and Josiah Richardson. The seventh and 
eighth lots laid out to Thornton passed in 1789 with some of 
the other lots on the west to the Peabody family. The ninth lot 


came into possession of Ephraim Hall about the time of the Revo- 
lution and was long owned by his grandson, the late Ira Hall ; 
it is now owned by Bert A. Cluif. A tract of woodland near or 
on Burns Hill is still known as Thornton Woods. The twelfth 
lot was purchased in 1729 by Joseph Chamberlain. Directly 
westward of the residence of Corliss Smith may be seen the re- 
mains of an old cellar where stood the Chamberlain house. The 
Chamberlain lot, when purchased, was bounded eastward by the 
"homestead of Anthom' Negro." 

East and northeast from this point to the east line of the 
town and embracing Cedar (now Peters) pond were many lots 
which cannot now be identified. Very singularly the name of 
Cedar pond is still given to a little pond lying north of Peters' 
pond. It is possible that in former times it was a part of the 
larger pond. In this vicinity a tract of 15 acres of meadow was 
laid out to Rev. John Higginson, who had the river lot already 
described. It was long known as the Higginson meadows and 
lies in Pelham, south of the road leading from Pelham center to 
Methuen. From these meadows flows a brook called at that 
time Dennison's, but later West or Bartlett's brook. Northward 
of the present state line was a range of lots extending from 
"Colburns Old Meadows and T Cove" on the west to the east 
line of the town. Colburns Old Meadows were north of New 
Boston Village and T Cove was a well-known bound and seems 
to have been the name applied to the easterly end of the Old 
Meadows, about a fourth of a mile west of the County road 
through Pelham, now Bridge street. 

The southerly bound of this range of lots was the Coburn 
New Meadow Farm, already described as lying north of Marsh 
hill. The northerly bound cannot be definitely located, but as 
several lots abiitted on Island Pond on the north, it shows that 
the range reached from the Old Meadows in a northeasterly di- 
rection and covered all of school district No. 5, called the Cur- 
rier district in Pelham. These were owned by those men al- 
ready mentioned, viz: Thornton, Curtis, Wood, Barron, and 
Marsh to which may be added the names of Nathaniel Cheever 
and William Colburn, and the tract comprised at least 800 acres. 
The greater part of this land was sold by the proprietors to in- 
vestors who were not residents of the town and later it came 


into possession of actual settlers. Northeast of Island pond a 
lot of 300 acres had been laid out to Jeremiah Belcher on his 
petition by right of an Indian deed to his father, reference to 
which may be found in the chapter on Indian History. North- 
ward of the range described was upland and meadow called the 
Tony Brook lots. The brook, sometimes called Mirey Brook, 
rises east of the Asa Carlton farm and runs northwesterly 
through the Hobbs farm entering Beaver brook a short dis- 
tance below the stone bridge south of Pelham center called 
Abbott bridge. 

Northeast of Tony brook, a lot of 250 acres was laid out to 
Ebenezer Wright and 73 acres to Benjamin Wood. These would 
include the Atwood farms, east of Pelham center. Lots are men- 
tioned as lying on Island pond brook which is the outlet of 
Island pond and is known as Gage's brook. With the exception 
of the small grants to Caldicot and Negus, the latter called 
Goulding Farm, all of the territory north of the tracts described 
was reserved land and was laid out in lots. They were usually 
located with reference to certain natural features as Goulding 's 
Pond, Goulding 's Brook, Ledge of Rock's Pond and the Dis- 
tracted Meadows. The latter are partly in the Gage Hill dis- 
trict and partly over the Windham line. Govilding's Pond is 
in Windham and is called Cobbett's Pond. It is one of the 
sources of Goulding 's brook which flows into Beaver brook near 
Pelham center. Ledge of Rock's Pond has been called Gould- 
ing 's but is now Simpson's Pond. 


THE first charter of the Massachusetts Colony given by King 
Charles I under date of March 1, 1628-9, granted to the 
Colony "all that part of New England lying between three miles 
to the north of the Merrimack and three miles to the south of the 
Charles river and of every part thereof in the Massachusetts 
Baj'; and in length between the described breadth from the 
Atlantic Ocean to the South Sea." At that time little was 
known of the interior of the country and the king and his coun- 
cillors labored under two errors. The first was the assumption 
that the continent was narrow, as in Central America. They 
supposed that the Pacific Ocean or South Sea as they called it 
would be reached about where the Middle States are located. If 
this grant was accepted as stated it would give to the state its 
present width but would be 3000 miles long, including a portion 
of every state now lying west of Massachusetts in this latitude, 
between the two oceans. 

The second error laid in the supposition that the course of 
the Merrimack river was like that of the Charles river, practi- 
cally east and west not realizing that for a large part of its 
course it ran north and south. This error was the cause of a 
controversy between Massachusetts and New Hampshire, which 
has ended only in recent years. As the true course of the Merri- 
mack became better known, Massachusetts claimed her territory 
to extend to three miles north of the source of the river and the 
General Court in 1652, appointed a commission to ascertain that 
point. The order appointing a commission was in part as 
follows : 

"31d. 3m. 1652. Concerning the north lyne of this juris- 
diccon itt was this day voted vppon pvsall of our charter, that 
the extent of our lyne is to be from the northernmost parte of 
the River Merremacke and three miles more north, where it is to 
be found be it a hundred miles more or lesse from the sea and 
thence vppon a straight lyne east and west to each sea." 


Two men were appointed, viz. : Capt. Simon Willard, who 
had fought in the Colonial service against the Indians and who 
was an ancestor in a direct line of the writer, and to whom many 
in eastern Massachusetts may trace their descent, and Capt. 
Edward Johnson, an influential man in the colony. These com- 
missioners with surveyors and guides ascended the river and 
located its source at a place called by the Indians Aquedahtan, 
now known as the Weirs. At this point they found a large 
granite bovUder in the bed of the stream near the outlet of the 
lake on which they cut the letters 




Bearing in mind that at that time the letters I and J were the 
same letter and that WP probably meant worshipful, we may 
read it Edward Johnson, Simon Willard, Worshipful John Endi- 
cott, Governor. This stone and inscription being later covered 
with water, it was forgotten until 1833, when excavating for a 
dam it was recovered. A point three miles north terminated at 
a pine tree known as Endicott's Pine, and here the commissioners 
located the northern boundary of Massachusetts. According to 
their interpretation this would give to this state the larger part 
of what is now New Hampshire with a considerable part of York 
county in Maine. 

"The New Hampshire grantees placed a different construc- 
tion upon the language of the charter and claimed that the 
northern line could not be in any place more than three miles 
to the north of the middle of the river. The territory there- 
fore lying between these extremes became ' disputed territory. ' ' ' 

"Subsequently, in 1667, at a hearing before the King 
Charles II and Council, the agents for Massachusetts, by advice, 
so far modified their claim as to disclaim all right of jurisdiction 
beyond three miles north of the river according to its course, 
that is, their line should run parallel with the river from its 
mouth to Endicott's rock and thence due north to Endicott's 
Tree, and thence due west to the South Sea. It was determined 


that they had a right as far as the river extended. Massachu- 
setts, however, continued to retain jurisdiction over those parts 
of the towns already granted, which were more than three miles 
north of the Merrimack, of which New Hampshire continued to 
complain. " ( " History of Haverhill. ' ' ) 

In 1692, under William III, a new charter was granted 
to Massachusetts, which defined the northern bound as "extend- 
ing from the great river commonly called Monomack, alias Mer- 
rimack on the north part and from three miles northward of the 
said river to the western sea. ' ' 

"About the year 1720, New Hampshire began to claim 
that the line should commence at the point three miles north of 
the mouth of Merrimack river and from thence run due west to 
the South Sea. With the setting up of this new claim com- 
menced a series of disputes, contentions, and suits that lasted 
nearly a third of a century." ("History of Haverhill.") In 
1731, a royal order was issued, referring the matter to a board 
of commissioners. This board met at Hampton and after several 
weeks of discussion agreed upon the east bounds of New Hamp- 
shire, a different matter in dispute, but not upon the southern 
bounds and by agreement this question was submitted directly 
to the King, at that time George II. It was not until August 5, 
1740, that a decree wa.s issued by the king and council which 
ordered: "That the northern boundary of the Province of 
Massachusetts Bay is and be a similar curve line pursuing the 
course of Merrimac Kiver at three miles distance on the north 
side thereof beginning at the Atlantic Ocean and ending at a 
point due north of a place in the plan returned by the com- 
missioners called Patucket Palls and a straight line drawn from 
thence due west across sd river till it meets His Majestys other 
Governments." ("Hist, of Haverhill.") 

Again the want of information of the course of the river led 
the king and council into error, they failing to understand the 
southerly trend of the river from its mouth to Pawtucket Falls. 
By this decision New Hampshire was given more than she had 
ever claimed. Massachusetts feeling herself unjustly treated 
refused to join in the survey of the line, and Governor Belcher, as 
authorized by the decree appointed George Mitchell and Richard 
Hazen, spelled Hazzen, surveyors. Selecting a point at the 


bend of the Merrimack river below Pawtueket Falls, they 
measured a line three miles north which terminated at a large 
pine tree at the northern end of the farm formerly owned by the 
late Zechariah Coburn, now in possession of James W. Mozley. 
This was known as Mitchell's Boundary Pine and was the point 
from which the two surveyors started out. Mitchell surveying 
the line parallel with the river from this point to the sea, and 
Hazen running the line west. 

The diary of the latter surveyor has been preserved and we 
copy that portion of it relating to Dracut. 

"Saturda\-y March 21 1741 Concluded at what part of the 
falls to begin to measure a due North line (the place concluded 
on being direetlj' opposite to Tyngs Saw Mill and called the 
Great Bunt). The said Mitchell set forward on his Course & 
measured the said three miles which ended about fourteen poles 
Southerly of Colburns Old Meadow & near the Easterly end of 
it, where the said Mitchell caused a pitch pine to be marked and 
erected a pillar of stones around the same tree & then we parted 
and I set forward on mj- Course from sd Pine Tree a course due 
West or according to my instructions, that is West 10° North 
variation allowed pr order of the Governor and Council and 
the same night measured 1" 16? to Beaver River. This line 
crossed Conants Farm (see Early Grants) and meadow and 
Nathaniel Clements lot. Monday Mar 23. We began to meas- 
ure a little after sunrise and the same day went on our course 
4"' 24p. In this days travel at 40>> 40p from Beaver River 
we crossed the path which leads from Dracutt Meeting house to 
that part of the town called Gumpass at which path William 
Richardsons house bore north of us and distant about 40 poles, 
and Nathaniel Clements Southerly and distant about 60 poles." 

Nathaniel Clement was the great great grandfather of the 
late Asa Clement, and his house was located on the slope of the 
hill south of the present Clement buildings. Capt. William 
Richardson was the great grandfather of the late Honorable 
George F. Richardson of Lowell, and his house stood on the right 
hand side of the road beyond the Clement farm and north of 
the Pelham line. The highway now called Mammoth Road was 


then called the "Path," as the highway was not laid out until 
1792; while Dracut Meeting House refers to the first church 
structure erected in Dracut and stood on Varnum avenue. The 
Peter Coburn house, which is the old house south of the Clement 
farm and still in existence, was undoubtedly the first house built 
in this neighborhood and the "path" led past these houses. We 
quote from the diary: "At the end of 274 poles from the path 
we came to a pond called Long Pond the general bearings 
whereof were North and South, in our way crossing said Rich- 
ardsons land and Clements. The pond was 74 poles over and 
on the west side of it Dracut and Nottingham join together." 
The diary records the survey which ended April 16th at Hudson 
River. In several places reference is made to the snow being 
three feet deep and at one place near five feet, yet at the end of 
the diary he records : ' ' The weather proved so favorable that 
we never stopt in the woods for any foul weather nor did we make 
a camp any one Night & Stretch<* our Blankets but three times 
all the Journey but Lodged without any Covering Save the 
Heavens and Our Blankets. ' ' 

All records or marks of the exact spot on the Merrimack 
river where they started are lost, but according to the journal, 
they survej'ed, a line running three miles north of a place called 
the Great Bunt, which is the broad expanse of the river west of 
the mouth of Beaver brook below Pawtucket falls, long known 
as Pawtucket Pond. By the establishment of this new province 
line the town lost about half of its territory and with other towns 
similarly affected felt much aggrieved. At a town meeting held 
November 26, 1741, it was voted: "That a petition be preferred 
to ye Kings most excellent majesty setting forth our distressed 
circumstances and praying that that part of sd town that is 
taken away bj- said line may be annexed to ye sd province of 
Massachusetts Bay, and that Messrs. John Varnum, Darius 
Richardson and Nathaniel Fox or any two of them be a committee 
and be fully empowered to sign one such petition and prefer it 
to ye Court of Great Britian. " 

It was first necessary to present the petition to the General 
Court for its sanction. The Court, while sympathizing with the 
town, did not grant their request, but appointed a committee 
who reported as follows: "The committee appointed on the peti- 


tion of John Varnum of Dracutt have taken ye same under 
consideration and apprehend that for Ending the Difficulty 
mentioned in said petition and all difficulty of ye Sort In any 
other towns within ye Pro^'ince Bordering on the Province of 
New Hampshire, a committee be appointed by the Genl Court 
to Goe into the said several towns and Enquire what number of 
Polls and ratable Estates is taken off from this Province by the 
Lines Lately run Betwixt said Provinces and make Report 
thereof to this Court as soon as may be, and that in the meantime 
the Constables of Dracutt and Nottingham be released from 
Charlestown gaol." 

What offence had been committed by these constables does 
not appear. Referring to this matter, a writer says of this 
transaction: "No record thereof appears in the Town of Dracut. 
It is probable that the town still insisted on its rights and 
instructed its constables to regard that part of the town thrown 
into New Hampshire by the new line as still a part of the 
original to\sai and under its jurisdiction, although why said 
constables should have been arrested by the Massachusetts 
authorities does not appear." 

It appears that one of the peculiar results of this division 
of the town was to cause the Ministers' Commons, or land which 
belonged to the parish, as a perquisite of the minister for the 
pasture of his cattle or supply of his fuel, to be situated in New 
Hampshire. The town was afterward allowed, by the act of the 
legislature, to dispose of this tract with the proviso that the 
proceeds should be applied to the support of the ministry of the 
town. Thus, so far as the town was concerned, the business 
of annexation was concluded. To the people it was evident that 
a petition from an obscure town like Dracut would have but little 
little influence v^ith King George II to change any decree which 
had been made. In 1803, a petition was prepared and signed by 
Peter Coburn and 113 others showing that "since the incorpora- 
tion (of the town) a large proportion of the land has been loped 
off by the brittish government" the town had been deprived of 
its rights by such "loping" and they prayed that a portion of 
the town of Chelmsford might be annexed. The new town 
would include all of the territory lying at that time west of a 
line drawn from the mouth of Beaver brook, passing near Oliver 


J. Coburu's house, to the State line. Also all that part of 
Chelmsford lying within a line drawn from Middlesex village to 
the City Farm and east to Concord River. 

At that time what is now the thickly settled part of Lowell 
was farm land. A small mill on Hale's brook being probably 
the only manufacturing establishment included in the limits 
mentioned. Thus a more satisfactory shaped town would exist 
but would be subject to being divided by the river. 

In 1825 commissioners were appointed by both states to make 
a re-survey for the purpose of ascertaining the exact location 
of the old line surveyed in 1741. The surveyors for Massa- 
chusetts were Caleb Butler and Benjamin F. Varnum. In the 
report of the Massachusetts commissioners, reference is made to 
the Boundary Pine station as being "two miles and three 
hundred and thirteen rods due north of a point in Pawtucket 
Falls called the great pot hole place." In 1827, the General 
Court authorized Benjamin F. Varnum of Dracut to erect stone 
posts at the angles on the east part of the line from the sea to 
the Boundary Pine which was then standing, also at the intersec- 
tion of the line with any highways. Copy of commission author- 
izing erection of monuments : 

"Commonwealth of Massachusetts 
Resolved, That the Honorable Benjamin F. Varnum of 
Dracut in the County of Middlesex be, and hereby is, authorised 
and directed, to cause good Stone Momiments, not less than one 
foot in diameter, nor less than four feet high from the surface of 
the ground, to be set up and placed at each angle of the line 
between this Commonwealth and the State of New Hampshire, 
from the Atlantic Ocean to Mitchells boundary pine (so called) 
between the towns of Dracut and Pelham ; and also on said line 
between the several towns in this Commonwealth from said 
Mitchells boundary pine to the line of the State of Vermont, 
so as to preserve the said line, as the same has been run and 
ascertained by the Commissioners appointed for that purpose, 
which monuments he shall cause to be permanently set in the 
ground, and to be lettered with the letters Ms on the Massachusetts 
side thereof — ; and that he lay his account for his expenses and 
services in the premises before the General Court for allowance. 


In Senate March lOth 1827 
Read and passed. Sent down for concurrence. 

John Ma,LS President. 

House of Representatives March lO"' 1827 
Read and passed in concurrence 

William C Jakvis Spkr. 

March 10 1827 

Levi Lincoln 

A true copy of the original resolve 

Att Edward D. Bangs 
Secy of Commonwealth. 

Caleb Butler was a great grandson of John Butler the first 
settler in Pelham, N. H. His wife was Clarissa, daughter of 
Parker Varnum. His associate was Benjamin P. Varnum the 
youngest child of General Joseph Bradley Varnum. His wife 
was Caroline Bradley. The commissioners failed to reach an 
agreement. New Hampshire asserted that Hazzen was in error 
in allowing ten degrees for the variation of the needle, thus de- 
priving that state of a gore of land commencing at the Boundary 
Pine and reaching to the Connecticut river. But Hazzen states 
in his diary that he was so instructed by the Governor and 
Council of New Hampshire. Nothing further was done until 
1885, when the Legislators of both states again appointed com- 
missioners "for the purpose of ascertaining and establishing 
the true jurisdictional boundary line between the two states." 
The survey was completed about 1890 from the sea to the Boun- 
dary Pine station. At this point (the three mile line due north 
of Pawtucket pond), a polished granite monument has been 
erected and the rough stone placed there by B. F. Varniim re- 
moved. It is about four feet in height. On the east side there 
may be seen the figure of a pine tree cut in the stone and occupy- 
ing about one half of the height of the monument which bears 
the following inscription: 




Boundary Pine 

Latitude 42°— 41'— 50, 26" 

Longitude 71°— 19'— 22, 02" 

On the west side is to be seen: 

The Royal Decree 
the Northern 
Boundary of 
was dated 
Aug 5 1740 
George Mitchell 

Located the 

Eastern Section 

of the line and 

Richard Hazen 

the Western Section 

Mar. & April 1741 

On the south side: 




Henry Carter 

George Whitney 

Edw. B. Savage 


Nelson Spofford 



Samuel Dana 

David Cummings 

Ivers Jewett 


Butler & Varnum 



On the north side : 


N. H. 


John J. Bell 

Nath' H. Clark 

C. H. Roberts 


E. T. Quimby 



Samuel Bell 

Henry B. Chase 

Samuel Dinsmore 


Elijhalet Hunt 


From this monument to the sea, neat monuments were 
erected at the angles of the line and at road crossings and the 
rough stone posts removed. 

The following year (1891), a survey was made of the 
western part of the line to the southwest corner of New Hamp- 
shire. The commissioners agreed to recommend to the Legisla- 
tures of their respective states the passing of an act accepting 
this line, which was the line run by Hazzen so far as could be 
ascertained, and establishing it as the future line of jurisdiction 
between the states. This action was taken and thus the 
controversy was brought to an end. 

A portion of the report of the commissioners presented in 
1899, at the close of the work, will convey the feeling of satisfac- 
tion which existed not only among the commissioners, but also 
among the people of the two states : 

"In reporting the final termination of a long contention be- 
tween the two states lasting over two hundred years, it is gratify- 
ing to record the fact that the settlement of the disputed line 
is mutually satisfactory and has ended with the most harmonious 


feeling on both" sides, in strong contrast to the bitter feelings 
which were engendered between the two Provinces at the be- 
ginning of the controversj'. " 

Edward B. Savage 

George W. Cate 

Prank W. Hodgdon 
Commissioners for Massachusetts." 

This establishment of the Province line has been recorded 
for the purpose of showing why the former territory of Dracut 
was divided and why the Boundary Pine monument was located 
in its present position. It appears to be an appropriate chapter 
to place on record in the history of Dracut. 


le war between 

1 for the supremacy of North America. Canada was then in 
the possession of France, and that country, aided by the 
Canadian Indians, sought to invade the English Colonies on the 
south. On the continent of Europe both nations were engaged 
in war, with allies on either side. Peace was finally concluded in 
1763, leaving the English in possession of Canada. In fighting 
the Indians, while military discipline was of great value, to be 
successful, a soldier must adopt the methods of the enemy to 
some extent. In King Philip's war the colonists learned the 
lesson of Indian fighting which, in the later wars against the 
French, was of great value to them, as the Indians were allies 
of the French. The Indians would never engage in battle if they 
could avoid doing so. Their manner of fighting was by the sud- 
den surprise, the treacherous ambush and the destruction of 
property. If the first rush was successful, a massacre followed; 
if unsuccessful, they seldom rallied to a second attack. The 
colonists at first were not accustomed to s\ich methods, but soon 
learned that to be successful they must adopt the Indian manner 
of warfare. Braddock endeavored to overcome them by the rules 
of war which had been successful while opposed to enemies, who 
also had military discipline, and his troops were helpless and de- 
feated. Washington, as his aide, knew how to oppose them and 
covered the retreat from the fatal field known in history as 
Braddock 's Defeat. 

When Samuel Varnum and Edward Colbum came from 
Ipswich, they were ignorant of the urgent need of protection 
against the roving bands of Indians, but after one or two attacks, 
they learned that garrison houses, stockades and soldiers were 
indispensable. These garrisons were recognized by the authori- 
ties as valuable for defence, and whenever assistance was re- 
quired, on account of a threatened invasion by the savages, the 
garrisons would be strengthened by men and provisions. 


The first Dracut settler to hold a military office was Edward 
Colburn, who, with Samuel Varnum, settled in this \dcinity in 
1669. He held the office of corporal. In the war known as the 
French and Indian War, Dracut men participated, although 
there was not a sufficient number to form a company, but one 
was formed from several adjacent towns. It consisted originally 
of sixty members, but only forty-seven were mustered in by the 
enrolling officer. Nineteen were enlisted men, twenty-two were 
hired, and six were impressed. The list included men from 
Dunstable, Chelmsford, Tewksbury, Dracut, Billerica, Bedford, 
Westford, Wilmington, Groton and Towiiseud in this state, and 
"Derrj-field, " "Souhegan West" HoUis, Peterboro and London- 
derrj' in New Hampshire. One from Mutilone, which town is 
not identified. 

This list is in existence but Dracut and Chelmsford names 
only will be mentioned. The list bears the following title : 

"A list of Captain Jonathan Butterfields Mens Names ages 
Places Born Place of Rezedents Occupation Dated at Fort 
Edwards July ye 26 A. D. 1756. 
Capt. Jonathan Butterfield 43 Chelmsford Dunstable Hus- 

Levtt Stephen Adams 42 Chelmsford Dunstable. Husbandman. 

Sergant Robert Butterfield 40 Chelmsford Westford Hus- 

Corpril Benjamin Butterfield 20 Chelmsford Chelmsford Hus- 
bandman Inlisted. 

Corpril John Warren 23 Chelmsford Chelmsford Husbandman 

Drumer Charles Barrons 26 Chelmsford Chelmsford Cooper 

Nathaniel Butterfield 45 Chelmsford Chelmsford Husbandman 

William Bowers 19 Chelmsford Chelmsford Labour Inlisted. 

Zebulun Buttman 19 Beverly Chelmsford Cordwainer Inlisted. 

Edward Colburn 30 Dracout Pelham Husbandman hired. 

Ezekiel Cheevers 21 Salem Dracut Labour ImPrest. 

Simeon Cory 27 Chelmsford Chelmsford Husbandman hired. 

James Dutton 27 Chelmsford Chelmsford Husbandman hired. 


Ambroes Emery 18 Dracut Dracut Husbandman hired. 
Stephen Farnum 55 Andover Dracut Husbandman Inlisted. 
Nathaniel Langley 18 Chelmsford Chelmsford Laboure Inlisted. 
Isaac Proctor 18 Chelmsford Chelmsford Laboure Inlisted. 

The name of the town following age of soldier gives his birth- 
place and the second is his place of residence. Of this number 
Edward Colburn, the great grandfather of the writer, was a 
great grandson of Edward Colburn, who came from Ipswich. 
Ezekiel Cheever was a member of the Cheever family, who for 
many generations lived on the road from Dracut Center to 
Methuen, represented in later years by two sisters, the last of 
whom, Hannah Cheever, died at the Cheever or Stickney farm 
in 1895. Ambrose Emery was born in 1738, in Dracut, and was 
the son of James and Ruth. He married July 17, 1762, 
Katharine Foster of Pelham, N. H. Stephen Farnum was born 
in Dracut, January 19, 1734, son of Stephen and Hannah and 
died at Lake George, September 1, 1756. The Farnum family left 
town probably near the close of the Revolution. Zebulun But- 
man enlisted from Chelmsford, but became a resident of Dracut. 
His children were born during the years between 1769 and 1777. 
He appears to have resided near Loon Hill on the Kelley farm. 
In 1770, he sold 100 acres to James Kelley, and in 1777, 60 acres 
to Asa Barker, which was afterwards owned hy William Malone, 
who gave the name to the hill. We have reason to suppose that 
Capt. Butterfield's company was engaged in the expedition 
against Crown Point in 1758. Among some old papers in the 
possession of the writer, is the following receipt : 

"Camp at Lake George ye 19 of October 1756 Then Re- 
ceived of Edward Colburne Teen Shillings In Full of all Acounts 
nots Bills Dues Debts Demands whatsoever from the Beginning 
of the world to this Present Day as Wittness my Hand 

Sam^. Ayer." 

Another proof of the presence of the company at Crown 
Point is found in an old letter which, for more than 160 years, 
has been preserved. It is brief, but, no doubt, brought comfort to 
the soldier in the distant camp. It is written by Hannah 


(Butterfield) Coburn to her husband, Edward. It was written 
before envelopes were known and with the address was written 
on a single sheet of paper. It is addressed: 


Mr. Edward 

Coburn in the 

Army against 

Crown Point under 

Capt. Jonathan Butler. (Butterfield) 

Pelham July the 30 1756 
Loving Husband these are to Let you know that I am well 
and our Children are well But Benjamin has had the fever ager 
but he is Better and all our Relations are well Blessed be God 
for it. Hoping that these will find vovi well I have Received two 
Letters from you and I Should be Glad to hear from you and to 
know How you fair I Should be Glad you would take the first 
opportunity to Send me a Letter ware you are and wot you are 
a Doing and wether there is any Hops of your Coming Home 
So No more at Present but I Remain your Loving and affec- 
tionate Wife until Deth. 

Hannah Coburn." 

The Benjamin to whom reference is made was then nine years 
of age, being born in 1747 and died about 1835. He was a 
soldier of the Revolution twenty years later. His granddaughter, 
Harriet Newall Coburn, was the wife of the late Jo.siah Gates of 
Lowell. When the British soldiers, with 1200 Provincial troops 
under the command of General Braddock, with George Wash- 
ington as his aide marched through Pennsylvania in July, 1755, 
to attack the French forces at Fort Du Quesne, there was a 
Dracut soldier in the ranks. Ensign Thomas Hildreth. 

We will include in the list of the soldiers of the Colonial war 
the name of Primus Lew, a colored man. He entered the service 
at Groton as musician, and served in the French and Indian War. 
His home was then at Groton, but later in life he removed to 
Dracut. He married November 5, 1743, a mulatto named 
Marguret, and among his children was one Barzilla, a fifer in 


the Revolution. Barzilla's grandson, Adrastus, will be remem- 
bered as a resident of Pawtucketville. In Massachusetts archives 
are to be found Dracut men in Capt Aaron Willard's company: 

Edward Bird (servant to John Sherburn) 

Daniel Clough John Cheever 

Nehomiah Flint (minor) Joseph Parker (son to Timothy) 

In the list of members of the company of English soldiers 
who were engaged in the affair in Acadia in 1755, we find Simon 
Wood of Dracut, born August 31, 1733, son of Benjamin and 
Mar}- Wood. Also names of others who cannot be identified. 

Daniel Clough Joseph Treadwell 

Joseph Emery John Emery 

Francis Kuowlton Anthony Emery 

Richard Barron 

The names of Barron and Emery are found in the records 
of Dracut in the Colonial and Revolutionary wars but have 
disappeared, while the names of Clough and Wood have their 
representatives in Dracut at the present time. Joseph Tread- 
well came from Ipswich, and in 1752 purchased 100 acres of 
land. This included the farm now owned by Hon. Arthur W. 
Colburn. He e\ddently resided here but a short time. Two ex- 
peditions were sent out during the year 1755, and in both there 
were soldiers from the New England towns. In 1690, Thomas 
Richardson, who married Hannah daughter of Edward Colburn, 
was a soldier in Capt. Samuel GaUup's expedition against 
Canada which was unsuccessful. 

The Colonies acknowledged dependence on the English Gov- 
ernment and whenever called upon, were expected to take their 
part in the war. The "taxation without representation" and 
kindred acts of oppression had not yet raised in the Colonies the 
spirit of rebellion. In these earlier wars they were being fitted 
for the long struggle which within the next few years was to 
commence, and the Revolutionary war was fought and won 
largely by men who had learned their lesson in the camp and 
on the battlefield during the Colonial wars. 

<See Page 422) 


The central expedition was despatched to capture Crown 
Point and Ticonderoga, in which Capt. Butterfield's company 
served as already noted. The eastern expedition, in which were 
the eight men whose names were recorded and who were in Col. 
Winslow's Expedition, was designed to destroy Acadia. This 
was part of Nova Scotia at the eastern extremity of the Bay of 

' ' In the Acadian land on the shores of the Basin 
of Minas Distant, secluded, still the little village 
of Grand Pre' Lay in a fruitful valley." 

[Longfellow's "Evangeline."] 

Before the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plj-mouth in 1620, the 
French had settled on the Island of Cape Breton and Nova 
Scotia. In 1713, Nova Scotia was ceded to Great Britian by the 
treaty of Utrecht, and in 1730 the people became the acknow- 
ledged subjects of that country with the condition that they 
should be permitted to retain their established form of religion 
and be exempt from service in any war between England and 
France, and they were known as "French Neutrals." 

The English government considered them a source of danger 
and took measures to deport them. This they accomplished with 
a cruelty and inhumanity that has remained as a reproach to 
Great Britian since that time. 

"The French force in Nova Scotia being subdued, a diffi- 
cult question occurred, respecting the disposal of the inhabitants. 
Fearing that they might join the French in Canada, whom they 
had before furnished with intelligence, quarters and provisions, 
it was determined to dispose them among the English Colonies. 
Under this order nearly two thousand miserable occupants of 
a sterile soil, and yet attached to it, and .so loyal as to refuse to 
take the oath of allegiance to the King of England, were driven 
on board the British shipping, and disposed among the English 
Colonies." (Goodrich's History.) "Without previous notice of an 
invasion the men were seized and confined in the church build- 
ings, while the soldiers plundered the houses. Families were 
separated and deported to different parts of the country as far 
apart as possible. About one thousand were landed in Massa- 


chusetts, who were for a time dependent on charity. "I know 
not if the annals of the human race keep the records of sorrows so 
wantonly inflicted, so bitter and so perennial as fell upon the 
French inhabitants of Acadia." (Bancroft's Hist, of U. S.) 

The soldiers who enlisted in this expedition from the New 
England towns were not responsible for this outrage. The 
objects of such expeditions are kept secret and the blame must 
be placed on those who are their authors. 

' ' On the 5* of September, 1755, four himdred and eighteen 
heads of families were summoned to meet in the Church of 
Grand Pre'. The same order had been given throughout the 
towns of Acadia. The anxious farmers had all obeyed. Colonel 
Winslow commanding the Massachusetts troops repaired thither 
with great array. 'It is a painful duty which brings me here' 
he said ' I have orders to inform you that your lands, your houses 
and your crops are confiscated to the profit of the Cro\vn, you 
can carry off your money and your linen on your deportation 
from the province. ' The order was accompanied by no explana- 
tion nor did it admit of any. All the heads of families were at 
once surrounded by soldiers. By tens and under safe escort they 
were permitted to visit once more the fields which thej' had culti- 
vated, the houses in which they had seen their children grow up. 
On the 10th, they embarked passing on their way to the ships be- 
tween two rows of women and children in tears. The young 
people had shown a disposition to resist, demanding leave to de- 
part with their families. The soldiers crossed their bayonets. 
The vessels set sail for the English Colonies dispersing over 
the coast the poor creatures they had torn away from all that 
was theirs ; many perished from want whilst seeking from town 
to town their families removed after them from Acadia, the 
charity of the American colonists relieved their first wants. 
Some French Protestants who had settled in Philadelphia after 
the revocation of the edict of Nantes, welcomed them as brothers, 
notwithstanding the difference of their creed ; for thej- knew all 
the heart rending evils of exile. ' ' ( Guizot's History of France.) 

A place has been reserved in this history for a record of the 
exiles of Acadia as the men of Dracut bore a part in the de- 
portation although no blame can be attached to their actions, 
as the object of the expedition would be kept a secret. It is to 


the credit of the town of Dracut that a helping hand was ex- 
tended to those whose lot it was to seek shelter and assistance 

The Acadians in Dracut 

Dispersed among the settlers on the coast of New England 
and the Colonies, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean further 
south, it was only by assistance rendered by the people of the 
towns that these unfortunate refugees were prevented from 
perishing by starvation. The Landerie family was assisted by 
the town of Dracut, as entries in the town records show: "Oct 
29 1756 Then the French Family being nine in Number Came to 
Dracutt and abode at the House of Mr. John Taylor and Mr. 
Ephraim Curties till the Tenth Day of October 1757 for Sub- 
sisting of them for that Space of time £14-1-5-3 and allowed by 
the General Court." 

There are four more entries relating to the same subject and 
of a similar nature, giving account of expenses incurred and 
dates on which services were rendered, the last one being August 
15, 1761. They showed no disposition to depend on charity, but 
rather were willing to support themselves, but lacking tools and 
materials all necessary means of support must be furnished by 
the town. The money expended by the town was refunded by 
the General Court. November 27, 1761, the Treasurer of the 
town. Major Samuel Varnum, was ordered to "pay Peter 
Landara £1-4^ what it cost them to the Doctor." February 14, 
1758, an order was given to pay Ephraim Curtis for material 
for the subsisting of the French ' ' f ammilies. ' ' Ephraim Curtis 
lived at the old house on what was once the Joel Fox farm, now 
owned by Moses Daigle. The town books record several orders 
given the Treasurer for money for their support. A sample 
of these orders is given. 

For paying Isaac Fox for making a loom for the French 
and other materials for the ' ' Support of the said French. ' ' 

To Nathaniel Fox for Provition for the French Family. 

To Aaron Coburn for pork. 

To Nathaniel Jones 8 shillings for 62 shad. 

To Ephraim Hildreth for a foot wheel. 


To William Hildreth for ' ' grane. ' ' 

To Samuel Varnum for an ax and pair of cards. 

To Ephraim Curtis for house room and hauling wood. 

To Josiah Richardson for one cow. 

In 1761, an article was inserted in the warrant at the annual 
meeting : " To see if the town would give the French family the 
cow that was purchased for their use." It was voted not to give 
them the cow. An order was is.sued to pay Samuel Coburn for 
"hous room and grane." He was a son of Dr. Samuel, who lived 
on Varnum Avenue, and we infer that the "hous room" was in 
that vicinity. John Taylor, who furnished lodgings for them, 
lived at the Samuel Worcester place, now the home of D. Sted- 
man Fox. Samuel Coburn also furnished "meet and pastering 
and wintering the French cow." 

In 1761, it was voted to give Lieut. John Varnum £2-138-4"* 
for what he gave the French family, about the time they moved 
to Dunstable. It would appear that by this removal the family 
was separated, a part remaining in Dracut, for six years later 
it was voted "to give the French family viz. Sarah, Marey and 
Betty Landre those three of the French family that Belong to the 
town of Dracutt twelve Dollars to transport them to Quebek the 
money to be put in Peter Frys hands overseer of the Poor of 
Salam not to be used until they actually go off and pay their 
passage." At the time of their departure the funds in the 
treasury must have been low as it is stated in the record that 
for that reason the town borrowed £3-13^-8d of Peter Fay with 
which They were enabled to journey to "Quebek." 

At the Curtis house where they resided for a time, certain 
articles have been found by later occupants which were used 
by these people. This briefly is the account of Dracut 's partici- 
pation in this event which has been the basis of the beautiful 
poem written by the New England poet, entitled, ' ' Evangeline, ' ' 
who "sat by some nameless grave and thought in its bosom 
He was already at rest and she longed to slumber beside him." 


THE peace which followed the signing of the treaty between 
England and France was of brief duration. England's 
attitude towards the colonies was of such a nature that it caused 
great dissatisfaction. The Governors of the colonies appointed 
by the crown were little in sympathy with the American people, 
and often disposed to be arrogant and oppressive. The war 
was commenced to maintain the rights of the people of America 
and not with any expectation of withdrawal from the Mother 
Country. Those men who fell at Lexington and Bunker Hill 
never suspected that those conflicts would lead to the establish- 
ment of a republic. But as the war was waged from j-ear to j'ear, 
it became evident that there could be no peace unless the 
colonies received their freedom. The causes of the war are well 
known and need not be repeated here, but the part which Dracut 
took was creditable to the town. A study of statistics will re- 
veal the fact that no town or city in the thirteen colonies sent 
to the war a greater number of men to the proportion of its in- 
habitants than Dracut. The total number of soldiers from this 
town, so far as known, was 439 ; the number of inhabitants in- 
cluding women and children was about 1100. 

Many of these had served in the Colonial Wars and the 
peculiar nature of Indian fighting had made them self-reliant, 
courageous and resourceful. But the need of military organi- 
zation and military training was realized, and Dracut men were 
taught the rules and regulations which relate to military life. 
They were proficient in marksmanship for their safety de- 
pended on their skill in the use of the musket to protect their 
families from the assaults of the Indians, and their flocks from 
depredation by wild animals ; but, in addition, militarj' discipline 
was needed. 

Mr. F. W. Coburn in his "Battle of April 19, 1775," re- 
ferring to this need of organization says: "If he (Lieut. Col. 
Smith) entertained any idea of surrendering, though I have no 


evidence that he did, he must have realized the hopelessness of 
that, for no one seemed to be commanding the multitude before 
him, beside him, and behind him. They constituted a large circle 
of individuals, but made no attempt to stay his march or guide it 
in any way. They just followed along, seemingly intent only on 
hunting down the King's soldiers. Had some master mind been 
in charge of the patriot army. Smith's entire force could easily 
have been taken prisoners. But this was the first day of the war 
and was only a contest between soldiers and citizens. ' ' Had this 
occurred later, when Washington had assumed command, the 
result of the battle would have been more disastrous to the 

During the period immediately preceding the Revolution, 
train bands were organized, which added greatly to the effi- 
ciency of the American soldiers, but as the exercises were to a 
great extent marching and countermarching with sham battles 
on the training field, the men had much to learn when real fight- 
ing commenced. The train bands were known in England a 
century before the Revolution, having been introduced by 
James I. 

"John Gilpin was a citizen 
Of credit and renown 
A train band captain eke was he 
Of famous London town." 

The commencement of the war brought into service the 
successors of the train bands, viz., the militia and minute men. 
The definition of the term "militia" is given in the Am. Bnc. 
Dictionary as "The civilian military force of the nation consist- 
ing of citizens trained to arms, and subject to be called forth to 
enable the executive to execute the laws of the Union, suppress 
insurrection and repel invasion. They are not a standing army, 
in the sense of being continually under arms, but are subject to 
the call of the President in the event of war. The organization is 
generally spoken of as The National Guard." 

The Minute Men were more independent bodies of soldiers, 
they were expected to be ready at a minute's notice, which gave 
them their name, and as signals were agreed upon by the dis- 
charge of muskets at night, the hanging of lanterns in belfries 


"One if by land and two if by sea" 
and the swift riding of horsemen to alarm the members, the 
name. Minute Men, was rightly applied to them. The responses 
were immediate, farm work was abandoned and saw and grist- 
mills left in charge of those who were not able to endure the hard- 
ships of war. Haste was urgent, the liberties of the people were 
in danger and the Minute Man must do his duty : 

' ' They left the ploughshare in the mold 
The flocks and herds without a fold 
The sickle in the unshorn grain 
The corn half garnered on the plain. ' ' 

The battles which were fought during the first years of the 
Revolution were those in which only Minute Men and militia 
were engaged, and until its close the Federal Government ex- 
ercised but little power. 

"Valley Forge was the pivotal, bloodless battle of the Revo- 
lution, and it marked the disappearance of the state militia 
levj' and the birth of the American army." (Gen. Philip Reade 

"These Minute Men were trained often, the towne paying 
the expense, when the company after its field exercises would 
sometimes repair to the meeting house to hear a patriotic sermon, 
or partake of an entertainment at the Town House where zealous 
'Sons of Liberty' would exhort them to prepare to fight bravely 
for God and their country. ' ' 

"Lord Percy said at table he never saw anything equal to 
the intrepedity of the Minute Men. They were of all classes and 
it was held as a marked distinction to be chosen as an ofBcer 
in a company." 

"The fife, the drum and the trumpet were the only instru- 
ments then used in the Continental army. The tunes usually 
played were 'Yankee Doodle' and 'The Road to Boston.' The 
tune of 'Chester' by William Billings was sometimes heard in 
camp and before the close of the war several new marches were 
introduced. Military bands were not formed in this country 


until about the commencement of the last century. They were 
in some instances taught by the Hessions who settled here after 
the war was over." 

At the period when restrictions of commerce, the stamp act. 
the tax on tea and other oppressive acts were being put forth by 
the English Government, it is with pleasure that we find a few 
members of Parliament who recognized the injustice of these 
acts and were outspoken in their condemnation. In a speech by 
Walpole he said: "I will leave the taxation of America to some 
of my successors who have more courage than I have." And 
Mr. Pitt also said : " I will never burn my fingers with an Ameri- 
can stamp act." The result of all this agitation, the hardships 
of the seven years' war resulted in the birth of a nation which 
eventually was to take its place among the foremost nations of 
the world. Although the war was not formally commenced until 
after the battle at Lexington on April 19, 1775, there were indi- 
cations of trouble which warranted a preparation for the event. 

As early as 1770, the citizens of Boston, irritated beyond 
endurance by the conduct of the British troops, met a company 
of soldiers in the streets of Boston and, while opposing their 
advance, received a discharge from the muskets which killed 
several of the citizens. This is known as the Boston Massacre. 
In this affray Dracut had no part, but the news was received 
by the townspeople and the spirit of liberty was aroused. A 
warrant was issued by the town for the purpose of calling a 
town meeting on the 12th day of January, 1775 : ' ' Then and 
there to see if the inhabitants will vote to come into any method 
for raising any support for the poor of the Town of Charlestown 
and Boston now iinder oppressed circumstances, in struggling 
for the liberties of their country." 

The records of the disposition of the articles in a warrant are 
often lacking, but we learn from a record made at a later date 
that assistance was rendered. "Charlestown Feb. 15 1775 
Received from the town of Dracut by the hand of Parker Var- 
num forty five and a half bushels of rye and indian meal, also 
twenty eight pounds, eighteen shillings old tenor in cash for the 
relief of the poor sufferers by the cruel Boston Port Bill, for 
which we shall account to the town of Boston. ' ' This last named 
town was not incorporated as a city until after the Revolution. 


At this same meeting Peter Coburn, Sr., was chosen to represent 
the town at a meeting of the Provincial Congress to be held Feb- 
ruary' 1, 1775, at Cambridge. The people realized the need of a 
co-operation of the Colonies, and to accomplish this, a committee 
of the leading men who were known to be earnest in the cause of 
liberty were appointed. This committee was called the Com- 
mittee of Correspondence and Safety. The men from Draeut 
chosen to serve on this committee were: Thomas Hovey, Amos 
Bradley, Isaac Fox, William Hildreth and Dr. Joseph Hunt. 
As early as 1770, two volunteer companies were raised in Draeut. 
One of these was composed of 70 men, who elected Joseph B. 
Varnum for captain. 

In December, 1774, the Provincial Congress decided to enlist 
12000 men to act as Minute Men. The train band was re- 
organized with Stephen Russell, captain; Bphraim Coburn, 
lieutenant; and Abraham Coburn, ensign. Joseph Bradley 
Varnum, before mentioned, a young man of 23 years of age, was 
made military instructor. He was well-fitted for the duties hav- 
ing made a careful study of the tactics which were in use at the 
time. His commission as captain was dated May 31, 1776. 

In those days no house was completely equipped which did 
not include a musket or "Queens arm," as it was called, with 
powder, bullets and flints. So when the bells were rung for an 
alarm or a signal gun fired by a farmer, each man seized his own 
musket and ran to meet his comrades at the ralljang place which 
had been appointed. Deposited in the Draeut museum is an old 
assessment and rate book in which is an entry relating to this 
time. It is entitled, "County and Baggonate rate East part 
1774." The book is a curiosity as the cover is made of a piece 
of oak board about the thickness of cigar box board and covered 
with brown paper. The number to be assessed is 120 and in 
addition to the County rates the assessments are to pay for the 
' ' purchase of a number of Baggonates for the towns use. ' ' This 
is signed by Ephraim Coburn, Peter Coburn, and Ephraim 
Curtis, the selectmen and assessors. They were not at first pro- 
vided with baggonates, or bayonets, as now called, and at Lex- 
ington and Bunker Hill they were not needed, but later the 
bayonet charge by the Provincials was so fierce and determined 
that the trained soldiers of England were forced to retire be- 
fore them. 


The courage of the American soldiers was underestimated, 
and it was said by the British officers that "any two regiments 
ought to be decimated if they do not beat in the field the whole 
force of the Massachusetts Province; for though they are 
numerous they are but a mob without order or discipline and 
very awkward at handling arms. ' ' 

The Provincial Congress was not clothed with any authority. 
Although the Colonies sent representatives, they could only 
consult in relation to ways and means and to recommend 
measures. These measiires would be received by the towns, but 
it was optional with them whether they accepted or rejected 
them. In March, 1775, the town voted: "That we comply with 
the resolves of the Provincial Congress so far as is in our power. ' ' 
Also "to have Baggonates for a Company of minit men." "To 
draw out one quarter part of the soldiers as Minute men, as 
recommended by the Pro\'incial Congress." Voted "To give 
the Minute Men one shilling for exercising one half day each 
week for ten weeks to come after they are equipped unless the 
last act of Parliament — Boston Port Bill — shall be repealed." 
' ' Voted That if any of the Minute Men refuse to go when called 
for that they shall not receive their wages for service. ' ' 

Thus the town was gradually preparing for the storm which 
burst upon them and which the wiser ones could foresee. The 
next step was the enlistment of men and the formation of 
companies. Officers were elected and the men instructed in 
the military exercises of the time. 

Arrangements were made amongst the members of these 
companies by which the discharge of a musket in the night 
would summon each man at once to the training field. One of 
these fields was located near Hovey Square, westerly of the 
He)iry Richardson house, and is now crossed by Henry street. 
In 1799, the town built a powder house near the spot and in 
recent years it was used by Mr. Richardson for a well house. 

When, on April 18, 1775, the King's troops marched out of 
Boston on their expedition to destroy the stores of ammunition 
at Concord and Lexington, their plans had been so secretly 
matured that the surrounding towns were taken by surprise. 
The ride of Paul Revere to notify the townspeople has been 
recorded in history and verse. 


' ' It was twelve by the village clock 
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town 

It was one by the village clock 
When he rode into Lexington 

It was two by the village clock 

When he came to the bridge in Concord town." 

So perfect was the organization and so well understood the 
system of signals that not only the towns nearby, but those more 
remote were hurrying forward their Minute Men by daylight. 
Many of them were too late to participate in the first conflict, 
but assisted in the demoralization which took place during the 
retreat of the English soldiers to Boston. "Whenever it comes 
to blov\-^, he that can run the fastest will think himself the best 
off." This was said by one of the British officers before the 
battle, referring to the Provincials, and the words were literally 
true on this memorable 19th of April when applied to the British 

In an address delivered by Dr. M. G. Parker at Dracut 
Center, he said: "The British in their report of this battle com- 
plained of the Americans to the King calling them murderers be- 
cause they took aim in battle; they did take aim and they hit 
the mark, not only at Lexington and Concord, but when they 
aimed at old England as well. ' ' Until a later period there was no 
army organization, and no authorized call for the Minute Men. 
Each company was independent and each man depended on his 
captain for orders. At the battle on April 19th, Major Buttrick 
assumed command, not by appointment but by virtue of his rank 
being higher than that of the other officers. After the aifray at 
Lexington, the British hurried to Concord. They were met by 
Colonel Barrett, who, as ranking officer ordered Major John 
Buttrick to advance at the head of the militia and Minute Men. 
As the British retreated through Lexington, they encountered 
more of the minute men, but the Dracut companies under Cap- 
tains Peter Coburn and Stephen Russell, were too late to en- 
gage in the fight and continued their march to Cambridge. 


Frank W. Coburn in his "Battle of April 19, 1775," 
records that : " In Draeut, twenty five miles from Boston, the 
alarm was given soon after two-oclock by the firing of a gun by 
Captain Trull across the Merrimack river in Tewksbury, a signal 
previously agreed upon, which aroused Captain Joseph Bradley 
Vamum. Two companies marched immediately, one under 
Captain Peter Coburn and the other under Captain Stephen 
Russell. ' ' 

In volume XIII, "Lexington Alarms," we find the "Muster 
Roll of the Company of Militia under command of Captain 
Stephen Russell of Draeut in Col. Greenes Regt, that marched 
on ye 19th of April A. D. 1775 against ye manisterial troops." 

Stephen Russell Capt. 
Eph" Coburn 1st Lt. 
Abra. Coburn 2d Lt. 
Matthew Parker Sgt. 
Benja. French Sgt. 
Timo. Barker Sgt 
Reuben Sawyer 
David Jones 
Samuel Brown 
Moses Goodhue 
John Austin 
Jos. Hebbard 
Thos. Lindsay 
Jona. Crosby jr. 
Obadiah Richardson 
Zacha. Goodhue Jr. 
W" Hildreth 
Robert Nieklas 
Caleb Aiistin 
Ezra Coburn 
Saml. Piper 
Ephraim Wright 
Eliphalet Fox 
Caleb Sawyer 
David Austin 
W"" Farnum 
Hincher Parker 

Jolin Harvey 
James Mansur 
W™ Lyndsey 
W" Coburn 
Francis Sawyer 
Joshua Pilsbery 
James Harvey 
W" Taylor 
David Trull 
Thomas Taylor 
David Jones Jr. 
Ephraim Hall 
Ephraim Parker 
Ezekiel Cheever 
Timothy Frye 
John Wood 
Stephen Wood 
John Gilchrest 
Job Coburn 
W"" C lough 
Nehi" Flint 
Hugh Jones 
Jesse Adams 
George Burns 
Kindall Parker 
James Davis 
Mitchell Galley 


James Sprague 
Moses Davis 
Green Parker 
David Blood 
Joseph B. Varnuin 
Abijah Wood 
Jacob Coburn 
Thomas Varnum 
James Reed 
Jon* Coburn 
Jon» Taylor 
W" Wood 
Jonas Richardson 
Barth° Massey 
David Fox 
Uriah Coburn 
David Adams 

John Bowers 
John Taylor 
W™ Harvey 
John Hancock 
Dan' Clough 
Sol° Jones 
Moses Barker 
David Clement 
David Lyndsay 
Tim° Davis 
John Barron 
John Thissell 
John Roper 
Thomas Wright 
Tim" Brown jr 
Simon Fox 

"Mdx S.S Dec 18, 1775 The above & within named Capt 
Stephen Russell appeared & made solemn oath that this roll by 
him subscribed is just and true according to the best of his un- 
derstanding & that the carefullest examination had been made 
by him in his power relating thereto. 

Sworn before me 

JnO Vaentjm, Just. Peace." 

The total number of names on the roll in 87 and the time 
of service two to seven days. 

Roll of Capt. Peter Coburn 's Company of Minute Men who 
marched to Lexington: 

Capt Peter Coburn 

Lieut Josiah Foster 
" Ebenezer Varnum 

Sgt. Miles Flint 
" Isaac Bradley 
" Parker Varnum 

Drummer W" Webster 

Josiah HUdreth 
Samuel Barron 
John Bowers Jr 
Edward Wyman 
W"- Hildrick 
Leonard Coburn 


Hezekiah Coburn Jona. Hamblet 

Bradley Varnum John Varnum 

Peter Hazleton Benja. Barron 

Jonathan Parkhurst Jonas Varnum 

Isaac Merrill John Bradley 

Jonathan Hills Jonas Whiting 

Samuel Coburn Josiah Fox 

Henchman Richardson Abijah Fox 

Zebulon Jones Solomon Wood 

Mieah Hildreth Jona. Richardson 

James Varnum Abijah Hill 

James Himt Benja. Crosby 

Phineas Coburn Jona. Jones 
Total number on the roll 39 

These names appear as spelled on the original rolls, so 
causing some peculiar spelling, thus William Hildreth 's name 
is spelled Hildrick, which was a not unusual way of pronoun- 
cing the name in later years. 

Dracut Men at Bunker Hill 

After the affray at Lexington and Concord, the men en- 
gaged in it, being enlisted for no particular term of service, re- 
turned to their homes. But they were well aware that the 
British commander at Boston would soon take measures to quell 
the incipient rebellion, and they at once prepared to resist. In 
a list of Revolutionary soldiers kept in a private journal and 
discovered many years after the war in a secret compartment of 
a desk, there are names of men who served in the war. This was 
probably kept by Ephraim Coburn whose name appears as First 
Lievitenant in Captain Russell's company and now in possession 
of his lineal descendant, Clarence G. Coburn. The whole list 
is given, although some names have been recorded in the two 
preceding lists. 

' ' The Lists of the men that have been in the American Servis 
Since the Battle at Lexington" "Those that were Engaged at 
Cambridge Eight Months" 


Jonas Whiting 

Samuel WMting 

John Fox 

Moses Clement 

Nehemiah Jacquest 

Capt Peter Coburn 

Lieut Josiah Foster 

Lieut Ebenezer Varnum 

Ser. Micah Hildreth 

Ser. Phineas Coburn 

Josiah Fox 

Moses Barker 

Elijah Hildreth 

David Clough 

Major Joseph Varnum Hir<* 

Ser. James Varnum 
Ser. William Harvey 
Corp' John Haiicoek 
Corp' John Taylor 
Corp' Jesse Fox 
Corp' John Barron 
Jonas Varnum 
Josua Varnum 
Seth Ditson 
Jonathan Jones 
Benjamin Barron 
Jonathan Richardson 
Amos Sawj'er 
Abijah Hills 
£18-0-0 Solomon Jones 
Abijah Fox 

The company encamped at Cambridge was the one that par- 
ticipated in the battle at Bunker Hill. The complete roll of the 
company is on file and is entitled, "Minute Roll of Capt. Peter 
Coburns Co. in Col. Bridges Regiment at Battle of Bunker Hill 
June 17 1775 and in the siege of the British Army in Boston in 
the Autumn of 1775." The additional names besides those at 
Cambridge were as follows : 

Moses Richardson William Emerson 

John Varnum (Methuen) David Lindsay 
Henry Barron Tobias Briggs 

John Bradley John Thissell 

Nathaniel Kittredge Peter Coburn Jr. 

Samuel Jenness Thomas Right 

Solomon Wood John Roper 

Timothy Patch Thomas Gardner 

Gardner Gould Zebdiel Fitch 

William Varnum Joseph Tiittel 

Timothy Davis Elijah Tuttel 

Daniel Clough (Methuen) Benjamin Crosby 
William Parker John Hoit 

Jonathan Hamblett 
Total number of members in Company 58. 


Peter Coburn, Jr., was the youngest member of the Company, 
being only ten years old. His presence was due to the fact that 
after his father's company had marched, he ran away from home 
and joined them while on the road to Cambridge. The names of 
the Dracut men who lost their lives at Bunker Hill are Joseph 
Hibbard. a member of Captain John Davis's Methuen Company; 
John Thissell and Benjamin Crosby of Captain Peter Coburn 's 

Bronze tablets have been erected at Charlestown on which 
are placed the names of those who fell at Bunker Hill. Joseph 
Hibbard is erroneously credited to Captain Sawyer's Company 
as he, as above stated, was a member of Captain Davis's. John 
Thessill's name appears on the tablet as a member of Captain 
Coburn 's, but through some oversight the name of Benjamin 
Crosby is omitted from them. John Thessill, as the name is 
spelled, was the son of Richard and Mary Thissell and uncle of 
Nathan, Daniel and Joshua Thissell and was born June 20, 1755. 
Benjamin Crosby was the son of Jonathan and Rebecca (Co- 
burn) Crosby, born August 12, 1754, and was a brother of the 
great-grandfather of the late Frank L. Crosby. Joseph Hibbard 
was the son of Joseph, who, in 1787, owned real estate in Dra- 
cut. We are not dependent on the miLster rolls for information 
for there was another class of documents to which reference may 
be made, called the Coat Rolls. 

In the records of the Journal of the Provincial Congress the 
following appears: "Resolved that thirteen thousand coats be 
pro\'ided, as soon as may be, and one thereof given to each non 
commissioned officer and soldier in the Massachusetts forces, 
agreeably to the resolve of Congress on the 23d day of April 
last." A schedule was prepared and orders sent to the different 
towns to furnish them. They were allowed four shillings each 
for making and five shillings and four pence for cloth, seven- 
eighths of a yard wide, and as far as possible the soldiers from 
each town were provided with the coats made in that town. 
This was good policy, as the townspeople would have an addi- 
tional incentive to perform their work well. The family of the 
member of a company who had lost his life could demand the 
coat to which thej^ were as much entitled as they were to his 
pay. The orders for the return of these coats and pay are re- 


"Methuen Feb 2, 1776. To the Committee of Supplies this 
may certify that Joseph Hibbard the son of Joseph of Dracutt 
enlisted into my Company in Col. James Fryes Regiment and 
served from the 19th of April till the Battle of Bunker Hill, 
and was then wounded of which wound he died, and was en- 
titled to a Coat which he has not rec'' 

John Davis Capt." 

"Dracutt Nov 14 1775 We the subscribers do certify that 
Mr. Richard Thissell is the sole right and proprietor of his son 
John Thissells wages that was killed at Bunker Hill fight in 
June last signed by two selectmen of Dracut. " 

Captain Coburn's company was engaged in the battle, oc- 
cupying a prominent position and it is remarkable that only 
these thr e .est their lives. The clothes worn by Capt. Coburn 
were pierced by bullets in many places, but he escaped injury. 
After several repulses and with great loss, the British at length 
reached the hastily prepared breastworks and an officer called 
out, as the Americans retreated, ' ' Now, my boys, we have you. ' ' 
As he made this statement, a stone thrown by Capt. Coburn 
knocked him senseless. A letter written by Capt. Peter Coburn 
soon after the battle has been preserved and its contents will 
be read with interest : 

"Camp Cambridge 

June 17, 1775 

The regiments were ordered from Cambridge to Charles- 
town and they arrived there about eleven o'clock at night, and 
then and there began a breastwork, and pursued until about sun- 
rise the next morning. About sunrise the troops fired on us from 
the ships as they lay in the ferry way, and killed one Pollard 
that lived in Billerica, and they continued their fire at times, 
all the forenoon, and we finished our breastwork about twelve 
o 'clock, at about which time they began to land nigh our breast- 
work and landed about 400 men, and in about two hours began 
to fire at us at our own breastwork, and continued to fire very 
brisk near about two hours. At length they stormed our breast- 
work and we were obliged to flee, and they pursued us as far 
as Bunker Hill, but we killed or wounded fourteen or fifteen 
hundred, and the loss sustained by us was few, about one hun- 


dred and fifty killed, wounded and missing and on the 17th day 
of June I arrived at Cambridge about sunset, alive but much 
fatigued and tired. Blessed be God therefor." 

When reading in this letter that "they pursued us as far 
as Bunker Hill, ' ' we must bear in mind that while the Americans 
were ordered to erect breastworks on Bunker Hill, they, by mis- 
take, erected them on Breeds Hill. We are told that the British 
landed from the boats and marched up the hill in military order, 
thinking it an easy matter to capture the redoubt. This was the 
first real battle which was fought, as the others could only be 
called massacres, and while in reality a defeat, it is considered 
by the American people of as much importance as a victory, as 
it showed the courage of the Provincial troops and that the 
militia could successfully meet the trained soldiers of England. 
Bunker Hill monument proclaims to the world that we glory in 
the results of the memorable day. 

On the 10th of May, a second session of the Continental 
Congress was held at Philadelphia. In Masachusetts, General 
Ward was in command, while other states had their own officers, 
a state of affairs not conducive to decisive results. It was dur- 
ing this session, but later than June 17th, that the command 
was given to George Washington. He arrived at Cambridge on 
the second of July and his first object was to relieve Boston of 
the presence of the British soldiers. On account of the need of 
siege guns and ammunition, the occupation of Bunker Hill for 
this purpose was a failure and the Commander-in-chief decided 
to occupy Dorchester Heights, from which Boston could more 
easily be stormed. Ordering siege guns from Fort Ticonderoga 
which were drawn on sledges, he took possession of the Heights 
and menaced Boston. The British General realizing his danger, 
evacuated the town and the American soldiers occupied the place. 
The name of one Dracut soldier who participated in this move- 
ment is William Abbott, born Sept. 8, 1757, son of Daniel and 
Lucy (Parker) Abbott. He married Patty daughter of Jacob 
and Lydia (Hall) Coburn. 

Early in the year 1776, the citizens of Dracut took measures 
to perform their part in continuing the conflict, and to know 
what military stores were available and what must be procured. 


At a town meeting held January 12th, a committee of Correspond- 
ence, Inspection and Safety was chosen, consisting of Samuel 
Coburn, Dr. James Abbott, Reuben Sawyer, John Bowers, 
William Hildreth, Parker Varnum, Eliseus Barron, Stephen Rus- 
sell and Joseph B. Varnum. By the appointment of this com- 
mittee the different parts of the town were represented. Samuel 
Coburn and Parker Varnum reported for the west part of the 
town. Dr. James Abbott for Collinsville, Stephen Russell and 
William Hildreth for the Center and Navy Yard village and 
Eliseus Barron and J. B. Varnum for East Dracut. The com- 
mittee reported a scarcity of bayonets and flints, and advised the 
purchase of lead for bullets, which were made in the home. 
Hugh Jones, Amos Bradley and Ebenezer Coburn were chosen 
as purcha.sing agents. The battle of White Plains was fought 
October 28, 1776 ; this was on the east side of the Hudson river, 
near Tarrytown. The result was not decisive and as the Ameri- 
cans withdrew from the field, the retreat was covered by Col. 
Brooks' regiment, in which was Capt. Zaeh. Wright's company. 
The company was composed of men from Chelmsford, Dunstable, 
Westford and Dracut. The record at the State House is as 
follows : 

"Camp at White Plains 

Oct. 31, 1776 

Return of Capt. Zach. Wrights Company in Col. Brooks 
Reigement. The names of the Dracut men are 
Jonas Varnum Sergt Caleb Astens t 

Robert foard " Saul Coburn § 

John Hancock Corpl. Jonathan Jones 

Jonathem Parkhurst William Hildreth 

Henry Coburn M. Broadstreet Coburn t 

Samuel Barron Daniel Coburn 

Moses Davis § Peter Parker § 

Amos Sawyer t Simon Flint ** 

Leonard Coburn § Solomon Abot § 

Sick Broadstreet Coburn Caleb Asten 

t wounded § Sent with the wounded ** killed. 

Lost in battle 2 guns 2 Bayonets, 2 Swoards, 10 Napsacks 
14 Blankets, 7 coats 4 Jacoats 13 Britches 27 Pairs Stockings 7 
Shoes 16 Shirts. 

Zacheus Wright Captain." 


The Dracut Convention 

The Committees of Correspondence and Safety from eleven 
New Hampshire and Massachusetts towns met at the house of 
Major Joseph Varnura Nov 5 1776, "To consider the alarming 
situation of Public Affairs, exorbitant prices etc." After some 
deliberation it was resolved to call a convention of committees 
and agents of towns to meet on the 26th of the same month, and 
to notify other towns to send representatives, if they chose to 
do so. The Convention met at the appointed time and 50 dele- 
gates were present from about 26 towns in New Hampshire and 
Massachusetts. The Dracut delegates were Major William Hil- 
dreth, Samuel Colburn, Ephraim Colburn, Abraham Colburn 
and Parker Varnum. It was voted that "in the opinion of this 
convention the unhappy difficulties arising on account of the 
exorbitant prices that are demanded and taken for many of 
the necessaries of life, is a matter worthy of our consideration, 
and that it be a subject of inquiry at this time. Upon a fair 
inquiry it has been made to appear to the convention that such 
is the advantage taken by the merchant, farmer, trader and 
others of those who are obliged to purchase the necessaries of 
life from them, that unless some speedy and effectual remedy 
take place, it is the opinion of this convention that those un- 
righteous practices will prove the inevitable ruin of the states, 
there resolved that This Convention will petition the Legislative 
authorities of Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire, them 
requesting that they would be pleased to take the premises under 
consideration, and so to regulate the purchases and sales of the 
necessaries of life as to obviate the evils we imagine will other- 
wise ensue. ' ' A petition was prepared in substance as follows : 
The petition "Humbly showeth that notwithstanding sundry 
resolves and recommendation of the Hon. Continental Congress 
by which we apprehend they intended that no unreasonable 
advantage should be taken in the purchase or sale of foreign com- 
modites, the product of our farms or our own manufactures and 
did agree and expressly determine that such as are venders of 
goods and merchandise should sell at the same rate they had been 
accustomed to do for 12 months then last past, many persons in 
the states aforesaid altogether disregarding the said proceedings 


of Congress and the weal of the United States, from mercenary 
or worse views have augmented the price of by far the greater 
part of the necessaries of life to an enormous degree; many 
articles of which are more than double the usual prices they 
were respectively sold for before the commencement of the pres- 
ent war. That some persons have been so lost to all virtue and 
the love of their country as to engross the most necessary and 
saleable articles, purchasing them at retail price and immediately 
advancing upon that retail price at least cent per cent, thereby 
endeavoring to depreciate the value of our paper currency ; that 
the soldiers and others not concerned in this unrighteous com- 
merce, are groaning under their burdens. Wherefore your pe- 
titioners humbly pray this Hon. Court to take the premises under 
consideration, and to enact such laws and make such provisions 
and regulations as in their operation may speedily and effectually 
remedy the evils of which we so justly complain. 

Signed in behalf of the Convention 
[N. H. Hist. Col.] John Bodwell Chairman" 

"The important position held by New England was clearly 
perceived by the British general who made strenuous efforts to 
prevent this section from assisting the middle and southern 
states. To accomplish this he endeavored to gain possession of 
the line of the Hudson River. It was to prevent this that Wash- 
ington fought the dreary campaign which succeeded the retreat 
from New York." [Address of Senator Lodge.] 

To accomplish this isolation of New England, an expedition 
was sent from Canada under command of Gen. Burgoyne, who, 
with 7000 troops, a train of artillery and a large number of 
Indian allies, first invested the fort at Ticonderoga. The Ameri- 
can garrison, consisting of 3000 men, abandoned the fort and 
joined Gen. Schuyler, and the combined forces marched to Sara- 
toga and Stillwater. In the meantime Burgoyne proceeded to 
Skenesboro and from there to Fort Edward. Prom this place 
he sent an expedition to Bennington, Vt., under Col. Baum, to 
destroy the stores, but on August 16, 1777, he met with such a 
repulse from the American Army, under General Stark, that the 
British were greatly depressed. We are not sure that Dracut 


men were at Bemiington, but the great-grandfather of the writer 
of these records, whose farm was largely in Dracut was present 
and took part in the battle. He was in Capt. Jesse Wilson's 
company, Gen. Stark's brigade, from July 21, 1777, to the time 
of his discharge for disability. His discharge paper has been 
preserved : 

"Bennington Sep. 12 1777 
Edward Colbum is hereby discharged from the service he 
being found unfit for duty" This is signed by the commanding 
officers orders by John Casey A. D. C. 

Whether wounded or overcome by heat and exhaustion like 
many others, we do not know. It is difficult on account of the 
absence of records to follow the movements of the Dracut men, 
but enough has been gathered from private records to prove con- 
clusively that they participated in the battles which took place 
about Skenesboro, Saratoga, and Ticonderoga. One such proof 
is found in a letter written by Capt. Stephen Russell. 

"Stillwater Sept 28, 1777 
Loving Wife & dutiful Children, after offering my love 
to you, 

I cheerfully embrace this opportunity to communicate with 
you, though at a great distance & to let you know that through 
the goodness of God I am well & hope these lines will find you 
the same. I am somewhat wearied with marching for we have 
had tedious marches. I have been to Skenesboro & was ordered 
right back again. * * * I had 40 men sent out of my company to 
Ticonderoga which have not returned yet & I dont know as they 
will. Jones has been sick with camp disease but is better & is 
here. We arrived here at Stillwater the 25th instant with 8 
days & one nights march without stopping but one night in a 
place. We hear that Ticonderoga has fallen into our hands.* 
We have had a battle here & by the best account we lost 200 men 
& 1000 of the enemy [were] killed & taken. Francis Sawyer of 
Dracutt was killed and also W™ Hildreth. Our Dracut men are 
all well that belong to the Continental service. They are aU here 

*This was incorrect. The rumor was the result of a raid by the Americans 
which met with only partial success. 


but Taylor who is at New Castle. Tories are plenty but our 
Indians make sad work with them. They take more or less every 
day. We are within lyo miles of the enemies camp & we expect 
hourly to be called to action. We are daily taking on both sides. 
Great consternation prevails. Our men flock in here like bees 
that cover the face of the Earth. We have a strong army here 
& our men are in good spirits, and I hope with a blessing that 
we shall overcome the whole in a short time. We have plenty 
of bread and meat. What men I have with me are mostly well. 
Our Indians take the enemy and Tories dayly & those that wont 
take quarter they kill and scalp. Time only must determine 
the event. New England has called down heavy judgements 
on us at this day & in the days of calamity & distress we are to 
consider from whose hand it comes. God looks down with dis- 
pleasure on our sins, but it is the sincere prayer of your friend 
and well wisher, that we may all of us mend our ways & live 
more to the honor and glory of our Creator than ever yet we 
have done & I desire that it may please an infinite being to re- 
turn me again to you and that we may be a blessing to each 
other. Time wont permit to multiply words, so I must conclude 
by committing you & myself & the children & all my near and 
dear relations into the arms and care of a merciful being who is 
able to keep and support us in any state, place or condition he 
sees fit to put us in. So I conclude and subscribe myself your 
affectionate companion & loving husband until death. 

Stephen Russell Capt. 
Stillwater Sept 28 1777 

Give my compliments to all inquiring friends and neigh- 
bors & to Mr. Tyler & teU him his brother is with me. Sargt 
Barker & James Reed are well & desire to be remembered to 
their friends. 

S. Russell Capt." 

A list of Capt. Russell 's company is found in the Mass Revo- 
lutionary Rolls: 

"A Pay Roll of Capt. Stephen Russells Company in Col. 
Saml. Bullards Regt of the State of the Mass. Bay Melitia, 
ADom. 1777." 



Capt Stephen Russell 

1st Lieut Isaac Warren 

2d Lieut Christopher Page 

Sergt Moses Barker 
" Jeratheel Coburn 
" Benj. Sprake 
" Peter Hunt. 

Corp. Francis Davidson 
" Zebediah Jones 
" Zebediah Rogers 
" Benja Lane 

Drummer Benja. Gould 

Fifer Abraham Stickney 

John Adams 

Chas. Annis 

W" Beard 

Jesse Bradley 

Reuben Baulding 

Sam'l. Cummings 

Jeptha Coburn 

Benja Coburn 

Silas Coburn 

Josiah Crosby 

Abiel Cross 

Nathan Cory 

Daniel Clement 

Jonathan Coburn 

Joseph Chambers 

"William Cauldwell 

Joseph Dowse 

Timothy Davis 

Josiah Estabrook 

Daniel Emerson 

Simeon Foster 

Thomas Goodwin 

John Gordon 

Jesse Gould 

Enoch Howard 

John Hayward 

Nehemiah Hunt 

James Haseltine 
Josiah Heald 
Ebenezer Johnson 
Nathaniel Ingalls 
Enoch Jewett 
Nathaniel Jones 
Daniel Kittredge 
Asa Kittredge 
Timothy KeUey 
Piiinehas Kidder 
David Lane 
Seth Leviston 
Saul Marshall 
Jesse Marshall 
Joshua Marshall 
Isaac Marshall 
Cambridge Mooar 
William Melendy 
Joseph Osgood 
Stephen Pearce 
Silas Parker 
Saml. Parkhurst 
Simeon Parker 
William Parham 
W™ Richardson 
James Reed 
Peter Reed 
John Reed 
Porter Ray 
David Richardson 
John Robb 
Jonas Spaulding 
Joseph Spaulding 
Jonathan Shed 
William Taylor 
Nathan Tyler 
James Terbox 
Saml. Trull 
Hezekiah Thorndik 
Samson Walker 


Abijah Wood David Walker 

Isaac Wright Saml. Whiting. 

Oliver Wright 

The total number of the company was 85. They drew pay 
from August 14th to November 30th, besides an allowance for 
twelve days to return home, 240 miles, marching 20 miles each 
day. The captain was paid £12 per month, the lieutenants £8.2s, 
sergeants £2. 8s, corporals, drummers and fifers £2. 4s and pri- 
vates £2. per month as authorized by acts of the Continental 
Congress. The company rendezvoused August 15th at Chelms- 
ford, and marched to Bennington, Vt., arriving there on the 17th, 
the day after the battle. Prom Bennington they went to Pawlet, 
Vt., and were attached to the regiment of Col. Samuel Bullard, 
marching to Stillwater, N. Y., where they took part in the events 
culminating in the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga, which 
occurred Oct. 17th. Soon after this the company was ordered 
down the river to Esopus, then to Tarrytown and White Plains, 
where they were discharged Nov. 30th. Another company, under 
Capt. Joseph B. Varnum, was mustered September 20, 1777, 
marched from Dracut, October 1st, and remained in service till 
November 7th. , 

In Mass. Revolutionary Rolls we find "A muster Role of 
Capt Joseph Bradley Varnum 's Company of Volenteers from 
Dracut in Colo. Jonathan Reed's Regt in ye state of Massa- 
chusetts Bay who Marched and Reinforced ye Northern Army 
according to a Resolve of ye General Court of said State Passed 
ye 22'^ September 1 777. For ye States pay by rates of ye Con- 
tinental pay." 

Capt Joseph B Varnum Privates 

Lieut Ephraim Coburn Lieut David Jones 

Sergt Abijah Fox Sergt. Samuel Baron 

" Jonas Varnum William Abbott 

" Jonathan Jones Simeon Coburn 

" Timothy Barker Leonard Coburn 

Corpl. John Handcock Samuel Coburn 

" David Trull David Coburn 

Fifer Barzeala Lue Saul Coburn 

Clerk Joshua Pilsbury Reuben Coburn 


Jonathan Crosby Jonathan Parkhurst 

Moses Davis Samuel Piper 

David Fox Ebenezer Sawyer 

Zechariah Goodhue David Sawyer 

Josiah Hildreth Jonathan Taylor 

Peter Heseltine Thomas Taylor 

Daniel Jaquest Bradley Varnum 

David McLaughlin Solomon Wood 

John Mears John Wood 
Isaac Parker 

(Signed) Joseph B. Varnum Capt. 

Jared Sparks, the historian and lecturer, relates that before 
the battle of Trenton, Lord Cornwallis hastened to overtake 
Washington. To accomplish this it was necessary to cross a 
wooden bridge which spanned Stony Brook on the old kings road 
between the Navy Yard and Philadelphia. While the bridge was 
being destroyed by the Americans they suifered from the fire of 
the British troops as they advanced, and some of the men were 
obliged to work in the icy water. As the brook was swollen by 
a freshet, the British were compelled to find a ford at a distance 
from the bridge, it gave the American troops a decided advan- 
tage. The men detailed to destroy the bridge were a part of 
Captain Varnum 's company whom Washington ordered him to 
take for this purpose. Touching his hat. Captain Varnum said, 
"Are there men enough?" Gen. Washington said, "Enough 
to be cut to pieces." Knowing the duty to be a dangerous one, 
he returned to his men and pinched his cheeks for fear that they 
would see that he was pale. Washington's commands were 
obeyed and the bridge was destroyed. 

At Bennington, the troops under Col. Baum, who had been 
detached by Burgoyne, had been defeated, which placed him in a 
perilous situation. An attempt by the British to retreat brought 
about an engagement at Saratoga which was undecisive, but a 
second battle was fought which was so disastrous to Burgoyne 
that he attempted to retreat to Fort Edward. In the meantime 
this fort had been besieged and fallen into the hands of the 
Americans which so discouraged him that he surrendered his 


army to General Gates, who had succeeded General Schuyler. 
Burgoyne was a very pompous man and his pomposity excited 
the ridicule of the American soldiers. After this defeat a coup- 
let was composed. 

"Burgoyne unconscious of impending fates 
Could cut his way through woods but not through Gates." 

During this year recruiting was difficult, and the towns were 
notified to send a certain number of men. It was customary for 
several men to unite in hiring one man, and these men, and not 
the town, paid the bounty. The length of time for which each 
should pay was furnished them. This statement is verified by 
the following copy of an old paper which is in possession of the 
writer relating to a transaction of this nature in Pelham, N. H. 
The journal of Lieut. Ephraim Coburn from which extracts will 
be made contains entries which this paper explains. It is brief 
and not dated, but is easily understood. We cannot explain why 
a part of them were ordered to furnish the amount for one 
month and others for two. It may be possible that some had 
already been called upon for like service and so were excused 
from paying as much as the others. 
"Edward Coburn 2 months 

Asa Carlton 2 months 

Abial Barker 2 months 

Nathaniel Currier 1 month 

Timothy Clark Jr 2 mouths 

William Webster 1 month 

Deacon James Wilson 1 month 

Daniel Wilson 1 month 
You and each of you are Required forthwith to Joyne ac- 
cording to your Proportions to git one good man to serve in the 
Continental army for the Term of one year. 

Asa Richakdson Capt." 

The journal of Lieut. Ephraim Coburn, to which reference 
has been made, contains the names of many of those who pro- 
vided substitutes, having already served themselves or being in 
service. It also shows the prices paid for substitutes. 


' ' Those that went to Ticonderoga under 

10 dollars 

10 Dollars 

Capt. John Ford 

[ John Hamblet 

Simeon Williams 
j Henry Cobum 
[ Ephraim Coburn 

Hired John Taylor 
• Thomas Goodhue 
Samuel Piper 
Hired Samuel Piper 
Deacon Amos Bradley Paid 20 Dolars 
lODolars [ Ephraim Parker 
Each I Jesse Adams 

Hired Moses Barker 
I" Samuel Coburn £8-0-0 

J Lawful money 
I David Blood £4.00 

i Lawful money 

Hired William Smiley 
r Capt. Stephen RusseU 20 Doll. 
J Deacon Thos. Hovey 10 Dolars 
i Ephraim Coburn 10 Dolars 
Hired Jonas Whiting 
£4-0-0 ( Benjamin French 

Lawful J Matthew Parker 
money each | Bradley Varnum 
Hired Benjamin Barron 

( Thomas Varnum 
10 Dolars I Joshua Jones 
Each j Jonathan Jones 

I Uriah Coburn 
Hired Joshua Jones 

40 Dolars Green Parker 
Hired Seth Ditson 

Lieut. Micah Hildreth 

Capt. Ezekiel Hale 
10 Dollars Doct. James Abbot 

Hugh Jones 
Zechariah Goodhue 
Hired Abijah Wood 
Jonathan Varnum 10 Dolars 
Solomon Osgood 10 Dolars 

Asa Coburn 20 Dolars 

Hired Asa Coburn 
I" Jabesh Coburn 20 Dolars 

.j Ezekiel Richardson 10 Dolars 
I Isaac Clement 10 Dolars 

Hired Isaac Clement 
( Moses Goodhue 5 Dolars 

I Timothy Frye 10 Dolars 

I Robert Coburn £4-10-0 Lawful 
[ WUlard Coburn 10 Dolars 

Hired Elijah Hildreth 
f Capt. Josiah Richardson 8 Dols. 

i David Richardson 10 Dolars 
Capt. Stephen Russell 7 Dolars 
Hired Brintwood Brown 
£4-0-0 ( Lieut. Aaron Coburn 
Lawful J Lieut. Abraham Coburn 
money Jonathan Parkhurst 

each Hired Solomon Wood 
One third of a I Capt Vamums 
man hired by | Company 

Capt Bussells Hired Two 

Company thirds 

[name not given] 

The Second Voyage of Ticonderoga men for 5 months under 
Captain Fitch. 

Samuel Cobum 20 Dolars £44— 0—0 

Ephraim Cobum 10 Dolars £22—10—0 

Lieut Aaron Coburn 15 — — 

Job Coburn 2— 0—0 

Jonathan Varnum 18 — — 0" 

[Names of men hired not given] 


' ' The names of Those that Went into the Continental Army 
the year 1777 with Capt. James Vamum and others for 3 years. 

Isaac Clement Josiah Wood 

Oliver HaU *Hinksman Richardson 

Jesse Coburn Asa Coburn 

Seth Ditson Joshua Jones 

Daniel Abbott Jr. John Dodge 

Samuel Perkins ' Joshua Atwood 

Thomas Thissell Benjamin Barron 

Moses Richardson Joseph BusseU 

William Hildreth Jr. Jonathan Hamblett 

John Taylor Jr. Elijah Hildreth." 

Also in private journal kept by John Vamum "31 Mar. 
1777. Town meeting to raise men for the army for 3 years. 
Voted to add to their bounty 100 dols. A committee was chosen 
and authorized to give security to each man that enlisted for 
3 years 30£ lawful money over and above what ye bounty of the 
state is. A number enlisted. 8 may Wm Hildrith, Hincsman 
Richardson, Joshua [Josiah] Wood and Josiah [Joseph] Bosell 
went to Concord and passed muster. Richardson returned home, 
Hildreth and Wood went to Cambridge, Asa Coburn set out 
for Cambridge the same day." 

Also in Lieut. Ephraim Coburn 's journal: "Those that went 
under Capt. Reuben Butterfield to the Jersey 3 months. 

Samuel Cummings Doctor James Abbott 

Toothacre Samuel Mears 

Josiah Crosby Josiah Wood 

Hinksman Richardson William Abbott 
Samuel Brown" 

These men were not letter writers and some could not 
write their names so that little can be learned from private 
correspondence, biit there can be no doubt that the Dracut 
men took an active part in the stirring scenes and the battles 

•Reported died July 6, 1778. his term of service from May 16, 1777 to 
July 6, 1778. 


and marches of the campaigns that preceded the surrender at 
Saratoga. These men ser\'ed at different times and in different 
places and all journeys must be taken on foot. As the postal 
service was in its infancy, tidings of the absent ones would be 
received only at long intervals. 

After the victorj' at Saratoga which encouraged the patriots, 
there were several engagements during the year in which the 
Americans were unsuccessful, and at the close of the year they 
went into camp at Valley Forge. The account of the sufferings 
of the soldiers is familiar to us. The cold was intense, their 
shelter was in huts, many of them constructed of boughs, while 
clothing, blankets and food were difficult to procure. In all these 
trying experiences Dracut men bore a part. 

Lossing, the historian, has left on record a fitting tribute 
to their patriotism: "If there is a spot on the face of our broad 
land where Patriotism should delight to pile up its highest and 
most venerated monument, it should be in the bosom of that 
little vale on the banks of the Schuylkill. There in the midst 
of frost and snows, disease and destitution, Liberty erected her 
altar, and in all the world's history we have no record of purer 
devotion, holier sincerity, or more pioiis self-sacrifiee than were 
there exhibited in the Camp of Washington. The courage that 
nerves the arm on the battle field and dazzles with its brilliant 
but evanescent flashes, pales before the steadier and more in- 
tense flame of patient endurance." 

Washington in a letter to Congress dated at Valley Forge, 
December 22, 1777, says: "Had a body of the enemy crossed the 
Schuylkill this morning, as I had every reason to expect, the 
divisions which I ordered to be in readiness to march and meet 
them could not have moved." Two of the divisions were those 
of Generals Varnum and Huntington. General Varnum upon 
receiving the order wrote to General Washington: "According 
to the saying of Solomon, hunger will break through a stone 
wall. It is, therefore, a very pleasing circumstance to the divi- 
sion under my command that there is a probability of march- 
ing. The men must be supplied or they cannot be commanded. 
The complaints are too urgent to be unnoticed. It is with pain 
that I mention this distress as I know it will make your excel- 
lency unhappy." 


The citizens of Dracut sympathized with the suffering sol- 
diers and sent a load of clothing to them, as we leam by an 
entry in the town records. "To the Treasurer of Dracut, Pay 
to Jonathan Jones £44-16s-8d for his going with a load of 
clothing to Valley Forge." This was a long journey for a team 
which was very likely an ox team, but it must have brought 
cheer and comfort to the men in camp. General Varnum was 
a brother of Capt. Joseph Bradley Varnum, who, in later years, 
held in the militia the rank of General. At a meeting of the 
voters of the town, held February 2, 1778, it was "voted to 
send each soldier who enlisted in the service for three years, 
or during the war, one pair of shoes, one pair of stockings and 
two shirts." Also "voted to raise 600 dollars to purchase them 
and transport to the said soldiers in the army." Thus assuming 
expense that at a later time would be borne by the government. 

The British were in occupation of Newport, R. I., about 
three years from December, 1776, to the end of the year 1779 
resisting all attempts of the Americans to dislodge them. Dracut 
men took part in a campaign during these years. Lieut. Ephraim 
Coburn's journal is further quoted. 

"May ye 8 1777 
Those that went under Capt Minot of Chelmsphord to 
Rhode Island 3 months 

Moses Clement Saul Coburn 

Daniel Jacques Jepthey Coburn." 

In 1778 another expedition was planned under the com- 
mand of General Sullivan. A company from Dracut served in 
this expedition under Capt. J. B. Varnum in Col. McClintock's 
regiment. General Lovell's Brigade during July and August, 
1778. The roll was as follows : 

Capt Joseph B. Varnum Sergeant G Flagg Lane 

First Lieut. Temple Kindal Corporal Asa Spaulding 
Second " Abraham Stickney " Jno. Haywood 

Sergeants John Robins " Oliver Bowers 

" Reuben Lewis " Oliver Farmer. 

" David Austin 


John Betty 

Clerk of Company 
Eben Hunt 
Amos Bradley 
Jesse Butterfield 
Jeptha Coburn 
Saul Cobum 
Ephraim Crosby 
Benjamin Danforth 
William Danforth 
James Davis 
Josiah Fletcher 
Levi Fletcher 
Edward Farmer 
John Gordon 
Jesse Hayivood 
Jonathan Hunt 
James Harvey 
Paul Hill 
James Louis 
Samuel Cory 
John Perham 

William Parker 

Chester Parker 

John Shed 

Jonathan Woodward 

Timothy Bancroft 

Oliver Coburn 

Nathaniel Ingalls 

Thompson Baron [or Bacon] 

Jno. Boman 

Jesse Auger [or Anger] 

Simeon Parker 

John Webber 

Ebenezer Leman 

Jonathan Foster 

David Merrill 

William Spaulding 

Jno. Dunn 

Andrew Hall 

John Johnson 

Thomas Goodvnn 

Abraham Jaquith. 

Some of the names on this roll were not those of Dracut 
men, while several can be identified as belonging to this town. 
Col. Louis Ansart, whose biographical sketch appears in an- 
other chapter, served for a time as an aide-de-camp to General 
Sullivan, and his service in this campaign comprised the only 
military duties in which, to any extent, he performed. A bri- 
gade was detached from the main army and despatched to Gen. 
Sullivan's assistance. This was under command of General 
James Varnum, a native of Dracut and brother of Capt. J. B. 
Varnum as before stated. On February 16, 1778, five men being 
needed to complete a guard at Boston, Jabish Cobum, Nehemiah 
Flint, Amos Bradley, Jr., Ephraim Wright and Benjamin 
Bowers were drafted. Nehemiah Flint hired William Abbott, 
paying him $30, to take his place. 


At a meeting of the town, May 22, 1778, it was voted £1535- 
10s to pay the nine months ', six months ', and six weeks ' men that 
went into the service. Also to give the men that went to the 
defence of Boston, in February, 1778, £6 for three months, also 
to pay the men that went on guard in April for three months 
£8 and to the men now on guard at Cambridge £14. In ex- 
planation of the action of the voters as recorded, Mr. A. C. 
Varnum has left a record which informs us that "these men 
were called out by the General Court for the defence of Boston, 
Cambridge and Watertown, where large military stores were 
on account of the troops that had been stationed there, having 
at the request of Washington joined in the expedition to cap- 
ture Gen. Burgoyne at Saratoga." 

In Town and County Continental rolls these additional 
names are found : 

Benjamin Bowers age 18 Jona. Osgood age 17 

Jeptha Coburn " 19 Chester Parker " 25 

Daniel Clement " 18 Dudley Davis " 16 

General Philip Reade, in "The Hildreth Family," writes: 
"Mass. Revolutionary Rolls show that Israel Hildreth served as 
a private from Oct 19 to Nov 23 1779 at Claverack N. Y. in 
Capt. John Porters company of the 2d Mass Bay militia Col. 
Samuel Denney. The company marched 200 miles to reach 
Claverack. Israel Hildreth advanced £341 to the town to help 
equip the soldiers. He cruised with Wingate or Thomas Newman 
until about the summer of 1779." 

Under date of March 3, 1780, an order was given to the 
selectmen by the treasurer "Pay to Capt. Stephen Russell £824 
to pay to the men that listed to go to Claverack," also same 
date "Pay to Captain Russell £249 that he found to be paid to 
the men that went to Boston, and one man going to Rhode 

In state archives, "Dracut July 17 1780 Received of the 
Committee of Dracut for hiring men a note of hand of 60 bushels 
of Indian Corn for our doing a 3 months turn in the army for 
said Town 


Ebenezir Sawyer Jonas Prescott Barrett 

Geo. Kelley Jonathan Barker 

Reuben Sawyer Christopher Williams 

Dudley Davis Jonathan Parker Jr. 

Jacob Atwood Joshua Thissell 

John Curtis John Hancock 

Asa Hall W"' Clough 

There are recorded in the State Archives a "List of Six 
months Continental men 1780 

Daniel Clemens [Clement] Thaddeus Coburn 

John Mercey [Massey] Moses Davis 

Oliver Jones Samuel Abbott 

Joshua Bradley Reuben Richardson 

Reuben Coburn Samuel Elliott 

W" Gould Timothy Kelley 

David Harvey Ephraim Lindsay." 

Also from State archives: "We the subscribers do hereby 
acknowledge that we have each one of us respectively received 
of the Committee of Dracut to procure men for the war, in said 
town 100 bushels of Indian Corn for our doing a 6 mos. turn 
for said town to the Continental Army." 

This was signed by all the men who signed the above ac- 
knowledgement except Timothy Kelley and Ephraim Lindsay. 
It is interesting to know the amount paid for service in the army. 

"Dracut March ye 22"^ 1781. We the subscribers Received 
of the town of Dracut Three Hundred Dollars in Specie, in 
money and in notes from the Town Treasurer in full for doing 
Three years Service in the army. 

Reuben Colburn Samuel Abbot 

William Abl)ott Thomas Whittaker 

Joel Bowers John Massey 

Oliver Mears Amos Worster [Morse] 

Tony Clark [colored] Premus Johnson [colored] 

Samuel Coburn Seth Dudson [Didson]." 


On the 8th of March, 1782, another call was made, and on 
March 26th the Town voted ' ' to desire Capt. Stephen Russell and 
Capt Joseph B. Varnum to call out their companies together 
to raise the men for the army, both to meet in one place." And 
all who belonged to the Alarm list and training bands were 
"requested to meet at Dea. Thomas Iloveys house to see what 
could be done about filling the quota." 

Men from Dracut were at Yorktown and witnessed the 
surrender of Lord Cornwallis, which terminated the war. With 
peace in the land, the government, which until war was declared 
was a monarchy, was now a republic, a government by the 
people which in future years was desined to take its place 
among the great nations of the world, and show to other nations 
governed by hereditary aristocracy that the right way of gov- 
ernment was by the people whose representatives made the laws. 

The close of the war gave the people an opportunity to 
attend to internal improvement, and Dracut men who had 
served in the army now returned and devoted their energies 
to peaceful occupations. The sword and musket were exchanged 
for the plow and scythe, and the surviving veterans were per- 
mitted to spend their days in peace. In the preparation of a 
history it is difficult to find a detailed account of incidents in 
the lives of those men who were the actors in this great war of 
the Revolution. Writing was to them in most cases a laborious 
task, and they did not realize the importance of records which 
to them were of little account, but to the historian they are in- 
valuable. One such record is the diary of Micah Hildreth which 
has been preserved nearly 150 years. The title written in a bold 
hand is : 




His Book 

The first entry is ' ' Ticonderoga August 28 1776 Then Reed 
of Capt Ford one Pound Six Shillings and three Pence For our 
Milage and Billiting From Chelmsford to Numberf ore ' ' . This 
refers to Charleston, N. H., which was chartered as No. Four. 
The next entry shows the route taken by the company which 
marched to Ticonderoga : 


Then Marched for Canuada. 
to Chelmsford 
to Westford 
to Groton 
to Pepperal 
to Townsin 
to Ashby 
to Ashbinham 
to New Ypswich 
to Rindge 
to Jaffrey 
to New molbury 
to Swansey 
to Keen 
to Surry 
to Westmoreland 

"Dracut July 23 1776 

to Walpole 

to Charlestown N. H 

to Springfield 

to Wethirsfield 

to Cavendish 

to Saltish 

to Ludlow 

to Sasbury 

to Clarodin 

to Rutland 

to Caselton 

to Skeensbourough 

to mount independent 

to Tieonderoga 

October ye 5 1776 

Then Received of Capt Ford Nine Pound Lawful money 
wages which was Due to me at Tieonderoga." 

The route taken for their return is also given. 

"From Tieonderoga Novem. 
to Fort George 
to Fort Edward 
to Fort Miller 
to Saratogie 
to Still Water 
to Half Moon 
to New City 
to Albany Flats 
to Albany 
then a Crost the 
River to Green Bush 
to Seoduck 
to New Lebanon 
to Green Groves 
Caled Philips town 
to Pits Field 
toPatridge Field 
to Washington 

26 1776 
to Williams Burg 
to Hatfield 
then a Crost the 
River to Hadley 
to Amherst 
to Shutes Barry 
to New Salam 
to Peters Sham 
to Templeton 
to Westminster 
to Fitch Burg 
to Luniug Burg 
to Sharley 
to Groten 
to Westford 
to Chelmsford 


These routes may be followed by locating the towns on a map 
although many of the towns have been given different names. 

The diary continues: "August ye 12 then Left Isaac 
Clement sick with the small pox at Caselton. August ye 17 
then Corpl. Spaulding was Carried to Lake George Sick with 
the Small Pox. August — then Asa Coburn was carried to 
Fort George Sick with the Small Pox. August 25 then Elijah 
Hildreth was Carried to Fort George sick with the small Pox. 
August 28 Then John Mears was Carried down the Lake to 
Fort George sick with the small pox. J^ugust ye 28 Then 
Zachariah Fletcher was Carried to Fort George sick with the 
small pox." 

These items are sufficient to show the ravages of this disease 
among the Dracut Soldiers. "November ye 12 1776 Then I 
"Went a Hunting and Sergt. Parker and Sergt Chambers and 
we kild Buck Weight Pr Quarter 30 lb. Dec 5 1776 Then 
Lieut Chaney and I Bought a Horse Prise Ten Pound Lawfull 
Money. First night my Horse Cost for keeping £0-ls-Od." 

Then follow items from which we infer that he travelled 
about alone: "Tieond Novem 26 1776 Then I Sot out for Home 
at half after 2 at Night and Got to the Head of Lake George 
half after 4 then We Went on Bord and sot sail for Fort George 
and got there 27 about the sun an hour high at Night then I 
Bought 1 Qut of Cyder. 28 Day I Came to fort Edward and 
then to fort miles and stayed 1 Night and Got Soper and 
Breekfurst. 29 then to Saratoga and From there to Still Water 
and Eat Super and Breekfurst N. 30 I came to Half Moon and 
staid there that Night and Eat Super and Breckfust. then to 
Albaney and Drinked 2 Boles of todey and Eat Bisket & Chees. 
Super and Login and Breckfurs ls-6d." 

The dates which follow in the diary relate to earlier trans- 

"Tieonderoga Oct ye 28 1776 on Sunday. Then we Was 
a Larmed and Every man to his arms and marched to his a 
Larm Post for the Enemy appeared in Sight upon the Lake 
and a Number of Boates Began to Land a Bought 3 miles of 
and then 1 Boat Boar down towards us and Come within 3 


Quarters of a mile of our Batries and We Fired 2 Cannon from 
ye Sandy Redout and 3 Cannon from ye Jarze [Jersey] Redout 
at the Boat and we understand that the Last Shot struck the 
Boat and kild 3 men. Then the Enemy Retreted Back to 
Putnams Point and some to Crown Point. Then the 3 Day of 
November the Enemy Sot Sail and Left Putnam Point and 
Cro^ATi Point. Nov 16 1776 at evening. Morril and Littlehal 
Camp got a Fier and They Blod up those magazin which kept 
a very hot Fier for once in Quarter of an hour one horn wood 
Go of and then another." 

This has reference to the horns of cattle in which they car- 
ried their powder. 

"August ye 19 I went on Fatague with one 100 men. 
August ye 23 then I went on Fatague with Capt. Miles.* 
August ye 24 then I went upon a Cort martial whare of Colo. 
Arvine was Presedent Capt. Ford and Capt Peat and Capt 
Eaten and Capt Liman and Lieut Baldin Lt Bench Lt Bond 
members of sd Court. Ticond. Aug 30 then went upon a Cort 
martial. August 31. then went upon a Cort martial with those 
Gentlemen a Bove mentioned to try such Persons as shall be 
brought Before Them. Sept 8 at Eving orders Came that Every 
officer and soldier keep Fast in thare tents and not go out till 
the Son Rise Next morning the Geul. expecting Some Enemy 
in Camps who was Dressed in Disguise to Vew our Lines But 
Found none Sept 26 We Hear News From New York that the 
kings Troops Sallied out to Force our Lines and there was Slain 
2000 and 6 or 7 Hundred Taken Prisiners. Oct ye 3 Then I 
Went on Fatague with 100 men. Oct ye 19 Then I Went on 
Guard With Capt Myers and Ensign Wliite & Sixty men. 
Wee Expected the Enemy the Next morning which was Sunday 
and our men Begun a Brisk Fier on Saturday about the Sun 
Half an Hour high at Night and Fired a Good many Rounds 
from Each Batery and with small arms from the Brest work 
to Clear out our Peases For the Next morning to Ingage. Sept 
ye 22 Lt. Whitcom Brought a Regular Ensign and a Corpril 

*The work or duties of soldiers distinct from the use of arm.s. [Encyclo. 


From the Regulars Wliieh he and Two men more Took Down 
towards Shambelee and Brought up to Ticonderoga to Genl. 
Gates. Ticonderoga Oct 3 23 1776 Then I Went on Piquet Guard 
with Colo. Lenord and 200 men. Oct 24 Then 1 went on Fatague 
with Colo. Whelock and Majr Stady and Major Rogers. Oct ye 
26 1776 Then I Went on Main Guard with Capt. John Polhemus 
and sixty men and Had sixteen Prisiners under guard Confined. 
Ticonderoga Oct ye 10 1776 Then our Fleet and Genl. Boigoin 
Fleet met upon the Lake. ' ' 

Reference is made in the next entry to his going on guard 
"which is Caled the Jarze [Jersey] Redout." The diary ends 
abruptly but it reveals much of the soldier's experience. A 
few of the entries have been omitted, but they were repetitions 
and nothing of interest. In 1903, the Molly Varnum Chapter, 
Daughters of the Revolution, presented to the town Library a 
handsome book prepared by Ross Turner, a celebrated Boston 
artist, in which the names of the Revolutionary Soldiers are 
inscribed. In an address given by Dr. Moses G. Parker, he states 
that in this list are found 33 Coburns, 15 Varnums, 14 Rich- 
ardsons, 13 Parkers, 11 Jones', 9 Foxes, 7 each of Abbott, Davis, 
Hall and Sawyer, 6 each of Barker, Bradley, Hildreth, Lindsay 
and Wood, 5 each of Barron, Bowers, Clement, Clough, Crosby, 
Harris, Kelley and Taylor, 4 each of Flint, Foster, Goodhue, 
Marshall, Mears and Wright. From these 439 Dracut men 112 
marched to Lexington and Concord, 23 were at Bunker Hill, 
63 at Saratoga, 7 at White Plains, 69 at Rhode Island, and 74 
in New York State ; 61 are recorded as being in the Continental 
army and 23 in the Northern army without the place of service 
being given. Many were attached to companies and regiments, 
but the location of these companies and regiments are not given. 
In this is found: 

One Colonel: Twelve Lieutenants: 

Col. Louis Ausart Abraham Coburn 

Four Captains: Ephraim Coburn 

Peter Coburn Simon Coburn 

J. B. Varnum Miles Flint 

James Varnum William Harvey 

Stephen Russell Josiah Foster 


David Jones Samuel Mansur 

Temple Kendall Mathew Parker 

Abram Stiekney Jonathan Robbins 
Ebenezer Varnum Thirteen Corporals: 

Micah Hildreth John Barron 

Christopher Page. Oliver Bowers 

Thirteen Sergeants: Daniel Clough, Jr. 

David Austin Francis Davidson 

Moses Barker Oliver Farmer 

Timothy Barker John Hancock 

Samuel Barron Zebediah Jones 

Jerathmeel Coburn Ephraim Lindsay 

Abijah Fox Kendall Parker 

Peter Hunt Asa Spaulding 

Jonathan Jones John Taylor 

Gerehom Flag Lane David Trull 

David Lindsay Elijah Tuttle 

Dr. Parker adds: "It is a record she may well be proud 
of, it places her among the first if not the first, on the list of 
towns, for patriots in the American Revolution, giving 36 per 
cent, of her entire population which was then only 1,173 to 
the defence of our country." 

The revised Roll of Honor gives a total number of 439 
names of Dracut men who served in the War for Independence. 
Of Corporal John Hancock it is interesting to note an entry 
on the Town records: "April 1772 John Hancock a Native of 
Great Britain came to the Town of Dracut and resided at the 
house of Mr. John Gilchrist." His marriage to Elizabeth 
Nichols is recorded in the town books, also the birth of two 
children. He served in several of the companies from 1775 to 
1778 and his death occurred in 1796. An order is on record 
given to the town Treasi;rer for the payment of a bill as fol- 
lows: "Feb 10 1779 Please pay to Elijah Hildreth Fourteen 
pounds for his doing a Turn upon the Guard at Cambridge 
the summer past." The order is directed to Major Joseph 
Varnum, treasurer or his successor in office. Gen. Philip Reade 
has explained the meaning of this order. "The phrase 'to do 
a Turn' was of frequent occurrence in those days. Thus if a 


constable failed or refused to take the qualifying oath as such, 
the voters woidd at town meeting choose or detail another man 
'To do a Turn the present year in his stead.' " 

The commissary department was conducted by the state. 
There was no Federal government, and to provide food for 
the soldiers there was no higher authority than the General 
Court. September 25, 1780, a resolve was passed requiring the 
towns to furnish beef. This was an article of food of which 
the men were most in need and at a town meeting held October 
9th of the same year, the sum of 40,000 Continental dollars 
was appropriated for this purpose. In the following December, 
62,000 pounds of the old emission of Continental money was 
raised "for the purpose of procuring said town's proportion of 
beef required by the General Court." A committee consisting 
of Parker Varnum, Joseph B. Varnum and Peter Hazelton was 
appointed as purchasing agents. Some estimation of the value 
of the money at that time can be made by comparing these 
three sums mentioned. The first and second relate to the old 
emission of Continental money, while the third, which was to 
be hard money, was probably of as much real value as the 
others. The depreciation of the currency led to much suifering 
and disaster. In 1778, the town authorized the treasurer to 
sell the paper money if he could get one dollar for ten. 

The following payments on record will give an idea of 
the value of this money. "Paid to Elisha Baron £660 pounds 
for one ox, to Capt. Peter Coburn £1400 for two oxen, to Jonas 
Varnum £1000 for one horse and £84 for a blank book." 

In 1780 more men were needed for service in the army 
and a committee consisting of nine men, viz: Capt. Stephen 
Russell, Capt. J. B. Varnum, Lieut. Ephraim Coburn, Lieut. 
Miles Flint, Lieut. Davis, "William Hildreth, Reuben Sawyer, 
Deacon Thomas Hovey and Benjamin French, was appointed 
"To procure and agree with men for three years or during the 
war at the cost and charges of the town." 

At this stage of the war it was exceedingly difficult to per- 
suade men to enlist. Assistance was rendered by France and 
for this reason it was generally considered that our independ- 
ence was assured and we need not make any effort ourselves. 
This spirit, with the depreciation and scarcity of money, also 


the lack of interest which was manifested in the earlier years 
of the war, was the principal cause of the difficulty to increase 
the forces sufficiently to engage in offensive action instead of 
remaining, as they were compelled to do, in simply defending 
themselves. All historians agree that money was difficult to 
obtain and the currency in danger of further depreciation, and 
while some were willing to accept notes from the treasurer in 
paj'ment for services, others preferred to be paid in promises 
of cattle or corn. These were called cattle notes and corn notes. 

In 1784 two men, Joel Bowers and Amos Morse, requested 
the town to pay them $300 in money with interest from the 
time of their entering the service, instead of cattle as specified 
in the notes they had received. But as the town preferred to 
pay them in cattle, they requested the town to purchase the 
cattle of them for fifteen dollars each; but this the town de- 
clined to do, and they were obliged to receive the cattle accord- 
ing to the original agreement. At a later date a small amount 
was paid in monej' instead of corn. 

There were various reasons why this long war should cease. 
The British government was obliged to depend for supplies 
upon their own country, and weeks and sometimes months were 
consumed in transporting men and arms to America. Other 
wars at that time in progress demanded men which England 
must provide. The Americans engaged in a war to secure their 
independence, the enemy consisted of mercenaries who, coming 
from Hesse and so were called Hessians, had no incentive to 
win the war, and a large number of the people of England 
sympathized with the Colonies in their efforts to gain their lib- 
erty. All these with the success attending the American army 
led to the conclusion of peace and the acknowledgment of the 
independence of the Colonies. To show the feeling which ex- 
isted in Parliament, an extract from the speech of one of the 
members is of interest: "We have now been thirteen years 
engaged in this deplorable dispute in which we have lost two 
whole armies. I say thirteen years for T recollect that in 1763 
it was proposed to send over two regiments to General Gage, 
and it may be remembered that ray opinion was that they be 
sent, but that the use of them should be left to the discretion 
of the General, so that he might send them back if he did not 


need them. The opinion of my colleagues was that at all events 
they should continue in America. Numbers carried it and the 
regiments were sent. From that time I predicted the fatal 
events which actually followed from the fatal measure. In 1775 
the affairs of Lexington and Bunker Hill became the signals 
of carnage. It is now seven years that the unhappy subjects of 
a divided and convulsed empire have not ceased to cut one 
another's throats. "What have we accomplished? What have 
we got by all this ? Nothing. What do I say, a great deal worse 
than nothing. More than 80,000 men have been sent over to 
America, not one returned, and this at a cost of one million 
pounds sterling, foolishly wasted in executing ill-digested plans, 
without connection or object. We scarcely possess a hope that 
our national debt will stop short of inevitable bankruptcy." 
After referring to the millions spent he says, "This year 
(1780) was marked by the loss of the only national ally which 
you had, by the loss of Tobago and lately by that of a brave 
army, a brave general, who, like us at Saratoga, was sacrificed 
to the want of abilities, the wild, unconcerted schemes of 

Roll op Honor 
Dracut's Sons in the American Revolution. 
Number of names, 437. Population in 1776, 1173. 
Daniel Abbott, Jr. Lewis Ansart, Col. of Artil- 

Jaeob Abbott lery 

James Abbott, Surgeon's Jacob Atwood 

Mate. Joshua Atwood 

Samuel Abbott Caleb Austin 

Solomon Abbott DaAdd Austin, Sergt. 

Uriah Abbott John Austin 

William Abbott Peter Austin 

David Adams Thompson Bacon or Baron 

Jesse Adams Richard Baker 

John Adams Reuben Baldwin 

William Anderson, Fifer Benjamin Ball 

Jesse Anger Timothy Bancroft 

Charles Annis Asa Barker 

Jonathan Barker 


Moses Barker, Sergt. 
Moses Barker, Jr. 
Thomas Barker 
Timothy Barker, Sergt. 
Jonas Prescott Barrett 
Benjamin Barron 
Eliseus Barron 
Henry Barron 
John Barron, Corp. 
Jotham Barron 
Samuel Barron, Sergt. 
William Beard 
John Betteys 
David Blood 
John Boman 
Zebulon Bootman 
Joseph Bossell or Buzzell 
Benjamin Bowers 
Joel Bowers 
John Bowers 
John Bowers, Jr. 
Oliver Bowers, Corp. 
Amos Bradley 
Amos Bradley, Jr. 
Isaac Bradley 
Jesse Bradley 
John Bradley 
Joshua Bradley 
Josiah Bradley 
Tobias Briggs 
Alexander Brown 
Brintwood Brown 
Samuel Brown 
Timothy Bro^vn, Jr. 
William Brown 
George Burns 
Jesse Butterfield 

William Caldwell 
Mitchell Calley 

Joseph Carkin 
Nathaniel Chace 
Silas Chamberlain 
Joseph Chambers 
Ezekiel Cheever 
Tony Clark 
Daniel Clement 
David Clement 
Isaac Clement 


Clement, Jr. 
William Cloyd 
Benjamin Clough 
Daniel Clough 
Daniel Clough, Jr. 
David Clough 
William Clough 
Abraham Coburn, Lieut. 
Asa Coburn 
Benjamin Coburn 
Broadstreet Coburn 
Daniel Coburn 
David Coburn 
Ephraim Coburn, Lieut. 
Ezra Coburn 
Henry Coburn 
Hezekiah Coburn 
Jabish Coburn 
Jacob Coburn 
Jeptha Coburn 
Jerathmeel Coburn, Sergt. 
Jesse Coburn 
Job Coburn 
Jonathan Coburn 
Joseph Coburn 
Leonard Coburn 
Oliver Coburn 
Peter Coburn, Capt. 
Peter Coburn, Jr., Drummer 
Phineas Coburn 


Reuben Coburn 
Samuel Coburn 
Silas Coburn 
Simeon Coburn 
Saul Coburn 
Simon Coburn, Lieut. 
Smith Coburn 
Thaddeus Coburn 
Thomas Coburn 
Thomas Coburn, Jr. 
Uriah Coburn 
William Coburn 
Mitchell Corliss 
Nathan Cory 
Samuel Cory 
Benjamin Crosby 
Ephraim Crosby 
Jonathan Crosby 
Jonathan Crosby, Jr. 
Josiah Crosby 
Abiel Cross 
Samuel Cummings 
Samuel Currier 
Ephraim Curtis 
John Curtis 

Benjamin Danforth 
William Danforth 
Francis Davidson, Corp. 
Dudley Davis 
James Davis 
Mitchell Davis 
Moses Davis 
Moses Davis, Jr. 
Samuel Davis 
Timothy Davis 
Benjamin Didson 
Seth Didson 
John Dodge 

Joseph Dowse 
John Dunn 
Jonathan Dunn 
David Durant 

Samuel Elliott 
William Elliott 
William Elliott, Jr. 
Daniel Emerson 
William Emerson 
Josiah Esterbrook 

Edward Farmer 
Oliver Farmer, Corp. 
Joshua Farnham 
William Farnham 
Aaron Fermer 
Zabdiel Fitch 
Josiah Fletcher 
Levi Fletcher 
Zechariah Fletcher 
Miles Flint, Lieut. 
Nehemiah Flint 
Samuel Flint 
Simion Flint 
Robert Foard 
Jonathan Foster 
Josiah Foster, Lieut. 
Simeon Poster 
Timothy Foster 
Abijah Fox, Sergt. 
David Fox 
Eliphalet Fox 
Isaac Fox 
Jesse Fox 
Joel Pox 
John Pox 
Josiah Fox 
Simon Pox 


Benjamin French 

James French 

John Friend 

Reuben Fry 

Timothy Fry 

James Gardner 

Thomas Gardener 

Samuel Gardner 

John Gilchrest 

John Goodhue 

Moses Goodliue 

Zachariah Goodhue 

Zaehariah Goodhue, Jr. 

Thomas Goodwin 

John Gordon 

Benjamin Gould, Drummer 

Gardiner Gould 

Jesse Gould 

William Gould 

Benjamin Griffin 

Andrew Hall 
Asa Hall 
Ephraim Hall 
Ephraim Hall, Jr. 
Moses Hall 
Oliver Hall, Fifer 
Timothy Hall 

Jonathan Hamblett, Drum- 
John Hancock, Corp. 
David Harvey 
James Harvey 
John Harvey 
Joseph Harvey 
William Harvey, Lieut. 
David Harway 
Enoch Haywood 
Jesse Haywood 

John Haywood 
Josiah Heald 
Joseph Hebbard 
Joseph Hebbard, Jr. 
James Heseltine 
Peter Heseltine 
Elijah Hildreth 
Israel Hildreth 
Josiah Hildreth 
Micah Hildreth, Lieut. 
William Hildreth 
William Hildreth, Jr. 
Abijah Hill 
Paul Hill 
Solomon Hill 
Jonathan Hills 
John Holt 
Enoch Howard 
Lazarus Hubbard 
Ebenezer Hunt 
James Hunt 
Jonathan Hunt 
Joseph Hunt 
Nehemiah Hunt 
Peter Hunt, Sergt. 

Nathaniel Ingalls 

Daniel Jaquist 
Nehemiah Jaquist 
Abraham Jaquith 
Samuel Jenness 
Enoch Jewett 
Ebenezer Johnson 
John Johnson 
Primus Johnson 
David Jones, Lieut. 
David Jones, Jr. 
Hugh Jones 


Jonathan Jones, Sergt. 
Joshua Jones 
Nathaniel Jones 
Oliver Jones 
Samuel Jones 
Solomon Jones 
Zebediah Jones, Corp. 
Zebulon Jones 

Thomas Kele 
George Kelley 
John Kelley 
Timothy Kelley 
William Kelley 
Phineas Kidder 
Temple Kindal, Lieut. 
Asa Kittredge 
Daniel Kittredge 
Nathaniel Kittredge 

James Laflferty 
Benjamin Lane 
David Lane 
Gershom Flag Lane 
Ebenezer Leman 
Seth Leviston 
Barzillai Lew, Pifer 
James Lewis 
Reuben Lewis 
David Lindsay, Sergt. 
Ephraim Lindsej^ Corp. 
Isaac Lindsey 
Thomas Lindsey 
Thomas Lindsey, Jr. 
William Lindsey 
Abraham Littlehale 
George Low 

James Mansur 
Samuel Mansur, Sergt. 

John Marser 
Isaac Marshall 
Jesse Marshall 
Joshua Marshall 
Samuel Marshall 
Bartholomew Massey 
John Massey 
Oliver MeCann 
David McLaughlin 
John Mears 
Oliver Mears 
Samuel Mears 
Samuel Mears, Jr. 
William Melendy 
David Merrill 
Isaac Merrill 
Cambridge More 
Amos Morse 

Robert Nicklas 

John Osgood 
Jonathan Osgood 
Joseph Osgood 

Christopher Page, Lieut. 
Chester Parker 
Ephraim Parker 
Green Parker 
Hincher Parker 
Isaac Parker 
Jonathan Parker, Jr. 
Kendall Parker, Corp. 
Matthew Parker, Sergt. 
Peter Parker 
Silas Parker 
Simeon Parker 
Simon Parker 
William Parker 


Jonathan Parkhurst 
Samuel Parkhurst 
Timothy Patch 
William Patten 
John Perham 
WiUiam Perham 
Samuel Perkins 
Stephen Pierce 
Joshua Pillsbury 
Daniel Piper 
Samuel Piper 

Porter Rea 
James Reed 
John Reed 
Peter Reed 
David Richardson 
Ephraim Richardson 
Bphraim Richardson, Jr. 
Henchman Richardson 
Jonas Richardson 
Jonathan Richardson 
Josiah Richardson 
Josiah Richardson, Jr. 
Moses Richardson 
Obadiah Richardson 
Reuben Richardson 
Stephen Richardson 
Thomas Richardson 
William Richardson 
John Robb 
John Robbins 
Jonathan Robbins, Sergt. 
Zebediah Rogers 
John Roper 
Joseph Roswell 
Silas Royal 
Stephen Russell, Capt. 

Amos Sawyer 
Benjamin Sawyer 
Caleb Sawyer 
David Sawyer 
Ebenezer Sawyer 
Francis Sawyer 
Reuben Sawyer 
John Shed 
Jonathan Shed 
William Smiley 
Asa Spaulding, Corp. 
Jonas Spaulding 
Joseph Spaulding 
William Spaulding 
James Sprague 
Benjamin Sprake 
Barnabus Stevens 
Asa Stickney 
Abraham Stickney, Lieut. 
James Tarbox 
John Taylor, Corp. 
John Taylor, Jr. 
Jonathan Taylor 
Thomas Taylor 
William Taylor 
William Tenney 
John Thissell 
Joshua Thissell 
Thomas Thistle 
Hezekiath Thorndike 


David Trull, Corp. 
Samuel Trull 
Elijah Tuttle, Corp. 
Joseph Tuttle 
Nathan Tyler 

Benjamin Varnum 
Bradley Varnum 


Daniel Varnum 

Ebenezer Varnum, Lieut. 

James Varnum, Capt. 

John Varnum 

Jonas Varnum 

Joseph Bradley Varnum, 

Joshua Varnum 
Parker Varnum 
Samuel Varnum 
Samuel Varnum, Jr. 
Thomas Varnum 
William Varnum 

David Walker 

Sampson Walker 

Isaac Warren 

John Webber 

William Webster, Drummer 

Thomas Whitaker 
Jonas Whiting 
Samuel Whiting 
Benjamin Williams 
Christopher WiUiams 
Abijah Wood 
John Wood 
Josiah Wood 
Peter Wood 
Solomon Wood 
Stephen Wood 
William Wood 
Jonathan Woodward 
Ephraim Wright 
Isaac Wright 
Oliver Wright' 
Thomas Wright 
Edward Wyman 


AT the close of the Revolutionary War a heavy debt ex- 
isted which it was difficult to apportion among the colo- 
nies. This apportionment must be equitable or certain ones 
would consider themselves aggrieved and bring accusations of 
partiality. No reliance could be placed on the value of paper 
money as State and Federal credit was of little value. To 
Massachusetts and Virginia larger portions of the debt were 
assigned than to any of the other colonies, and whether right 
or wrong in the apportionment, the citizens of Massachusetts 
felt that their share was excessive. Some recommended repu- 
diation, others rebelled and were subdued only by the exercise 
of force. In the year 1786, about 2,000 men, under the leader- 
ship of Daniel Shays, misguided but terribly in earnest, sought 
to obstruct the execution of the laws by interfering with the 
sessions of the courts. At North Hampton they took possession 
of the Court House. The Governor promptly called out volun- 
teer troops and his call met with a ready response. Capt. Joseph 
B. Varnum, "leaving the Senate Chamber of the General Court 
where he represented Middlesex County marched with his com- 
pany to aid General Lincoln in quelling the insurrection of 
Shays and others, in the western part of the state. While this 
was a short and bloodless campaign, it was a severe one on 
account of its being in the winter." [The Varnums of Dracut.] 
In this critical period Dracut again showed her loyalty to 
the Commonwealth and three bodies of soldiers marched from 
the town to the scene of conflict. "Lieut. Israel Hildreth fur- 
nished clothing provisions and cash when Generals Shepherd and 
Lincoln needed such for the soldiers of Dracut that marched 
toward Worcester for the suppression of domestic rebellion. 
He advanced money to Capt. Moses No well to repay him 'for 
clothing, cash and provisions the latter had let the soldiers have 
on Nov 12 1787 that went into the service of the government 


last winter.' " [Reed's "Hildreth Family."] March 24, 1787, 
there was an article in the town warrant "To see if the town 
will make a grant of twelve shillings to each non commissioned 
officer and soldier who exhibited a specimen of their readiness 
to obey the calls of their country in lending their aid in the sup- 
pression of the lawless hand of tyranny by their laudable ex- 
ample in voluntarily turning out and enduring the fatigues of a 
winter campaign with the Honorable General Lincoln in the in- 
clement season of the winter past." No report is given of the 
action taken in respect to this article. Details relating to the 
part taken by Dracut in this campaign are difficult to obtain, 
but there are enough to attest the loyalty of Dracut men and 
their readiness to assist in the suppression of lawlessness and 

There appears on the town books the record of an oath of 
allegiance to the Commonwealth signed by 22 of the leading 
men of Dracut. The same patriotic spirit animated these men 
as when, twelve years before, they stood on Bunker Hill and 
they now showed their loyalty to their principles. 

"Dracut Middlesex Co. Mass April 2 1787. We, the sub- 
scribers, do truly and sincerely acknowledge, profess, testify and 
declare that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is and of right 
ought to be a free, sovereign and independent state; and I do 
swear that 1 wiU bear true faith and allegiance to the said Com- 
monwealth and that I will defend the same against traitorous 
conspiracies and all hostile attempts whatsoever, and that I do 
renounce and abjure all allegiance, subjection and obedience to 
the King, Queen or government of Great Britain (as the case 
may be) and every other foreign power whatsoever; and that no 
foreign Prince, Prelate, State or potentate hath, or ought to 
have, any jurisdiction, superiority, prominence, authority, dis- 
pensing or other power, which is or may be vested by their con- 
stituents in the Congress of the United States. And I do 
further testify and declare that no man or body of men, hath or 
can have any right to absolve or discharge me from the obligation 
of this oath, declaration or affirmation, and that I do make this 
acknowledgement, declaration, denial, renunciation and abjura- 
tion heartyly and truly according to the common meaning and 


acceptation of the foregoing words without any equivocation, 
mental evasion or secret reservation whatsoever. 

So help me God." 
Joseph B. Varnum Peter Parker 

William Hildreth Stephen Russell 

Thomas Hovey Josiah Hildreth 

Israel Hildreth Benjamin Stevens 

Parker Varnum Thomas Cobum 

James "Varnum James Harvey 

Bradley Varnum Richard Hall 

Joseph Varnum Samuel Barron. 

Jonas Varnum 

Some of these renewed their oaths of allegiance in 1788 and 
1790 with additional names of David Blood, Mieah Hildreth, and 
John Gilchrest. Such a declaration made by the most prominent 
men of the town, many of them having been in the service during 
the War of the Revolution, conveys to us, their descendants, a 
knowledge of the high spirit of patriotism which animated them 
in times of peace as when in the conflict of war. A list of the 
soldiers from Dracut and vicinity who served in Shays' Rebel- 
lion is appended. 

Mass. Archives, Vol. 192, Page 165. 

Capt. Joseph Bradley Varnum 's Company, 

Col. Woods' Regiment. 

J B Varnum 
Timothy Jones 
Peter Haseltine 
David Reed 
Phillip Butterfield 
Oliver Cobum 
David Harvey 
Nathaniel Fletcher 
Moses Coburn 
Jon a. Willson 
Oliver Mears 
Nathl. Cummings 




Jeremiah Abbot 
Benja. Abbot 
Benaijah Bums 
Reuben Butterfield 
David Bacon 
Moses Cheever 
John Cobum 
William Cauldwell 
" Moses Dunsmore 

" Leonard Fletcher 

" William French 

Fifer Samll. Fletcher 



Saml. Griffin 
Eliphelet Ginnins 
Daniel Gould 
Joseph Harvey 
Phines Hall 
Ferenton Hawk 
Jebez Hollis 
Hutcheuson Ingols 
Moses Jones 
Timothy Jones Jr. 
Amos Keuney 
Henry Kneeland 
Timothy Jaquith 
Richard Mears 
Zebadiah Mears 


Augustus Lund 
Leonard Parkhurst 
Abraham Parker 
Henry Farwell 
Heman Richardson 
Jonas Robinson 
Amos R. Sawyer 
Abner Stearns 
Edward Stearns 
Bbr. Varnum 
Abiel Wood 
Daniel Whitney 
James Whitney 
Eliakim Wood 
Richard Winship 


Mass. Archives, Vol. 192, Page 164. 
Capt. James Varnum 's Company, Col. Henry Woods' Regiment. 

James Varnum 


Abel Adams 
Ephm. Jones 
Benja. Butterfield 
Oliver Peham 
Jeremiah Werren 
Jesse Stevens 
Asa Coburn 
John Massey 
Silas Parker 
John Taylor 
Saml. Abbot 
Nehemiah Abbot 
Danl. C Abbot 
Oliver Adams 
Benja. Adams 
John Butterfield 
Joseph Bradley 
Josiah Barker 
Oliver Corah 





John MeClening 
Saml. Cummins 
Thomas Chambelaiu 
Nathl. Chamberlain 
Dudley Davis 
Joseph Emerson 
Benja. French 
John Parmer 
Ezekiel Prye 
Reuben Gould 
Timo Howard 
James P. Hovey 
Oliver Jones 
Stephen Kemp 
William Mears 
Abel Marshel 
Robert Mears 
Leonard Parker 
James Parkis 
Amos Prescot 
Tilly Parker 



Reuben Richards 
Saml. Richardson 
Sainl. Stevens 
Aaron Spaulding 
Levy Spaulding 
Henry Spaulding 


Jacob Spaulding 
Zebulon Spalding 
Isaac Taylor 
Stephen Wilson 
Dennis Lain 
Willard Marshel 

Mass. Archives, Vol. 191, Page 224 
Lieut. Benjamin French's Company. 
Benjamin French Lieutenant Isaac Bradley 


Daniel Varnum Ensign John Parker 

Saul Coburn Sergeant Joshua Thissell " 

Henry A. Hovey " Moses Hale " 

Parker Varnum Private Phinehas "Whiting ' ' 

William Hildreth Jun " 

The total number of soldiers was 119. Of these, 25 names 
appear on the Roll of Honor as serving in the War of the Revo- 
lution and 43 are known to have been residents of Dracut. The 
name of Brig. Gen. Simon Coburn of Dracut is found in list of 
Officers in 2d Brigade. Ezra Foster, who came to Dracut in 
1836, served in this war. 

The War of 1812 

The second war with Great Britain was not popular in New 
England. To some extent the people of these states considered 
it unnecessary, while from the nature of the cause of the war 
they were the ones to suffer most by the destruction of business 
owing to a great extent to blockades. There was not the hearty 
response from the town which was shown in previous and later 
wars, but it was represented. 

In the war rolls of the Adjutant General's office the places 
of residence are not specified, so the names of Dracut men can- 
not be given. 

June 22, 1812, the following action by the town is recorded, 
"Voted up to those soldiers that have volunteered themselves or 
have been detached to march in Defense of their country if 
called for, the sum of twelve dollars per month including what 
sum of money the Government gives them per month for so long 
a time as they shall be in actual service. ' ' 


Apr 4 1814, "Voted to find Powder and Balls sufficient for 
every soldier within the said town liable to do military duty, 
and have the same deposited in the Town stock to be delivered 
by the select men." 

August 31, 1814, it was voted "to make up to the soldiers 
last detached the sum of sixteen dollars a month with what is 
allowed by government." Also "to raise $224 for paying the 
soldiers who had purchased powder and camp kettles." The 
next year the same conditions were allowed those who went to 
Fort Warren. These items of record show conclusively that 
Dracut men served in this war. 


THE war which commenced in April, 1861, was not unex- 
pected by the citizens of Dracut. The war clouds were 
threatening many months before the storm which for four years 
raged in the South. Until the elections which were held in 
1860 the control of the affairs of government for many years 
had been in the possession of the Southern states, aided by 
Northern sympathizers, and slavery which became more odious 
each year was a powerful factor in the change along political 
lines. It was evident that the doctrine of States rights estab- 
lished by Thomas Jefferson, and which had been prominent in 
political matters, would be replaced by that of Alexander Ham- 
ilton, who advocated Federal control. The party in control of 
the government in 1861 was opposed to slavery and the Southern 
states became alarmed and withdrew from the Union. There 
could be but one result, war between the North and South, 
and in the Spring of 1861 the war commenced which was to 
continue four years. 

The citizens of Dracut. many of whom were descendants 
of those men who had fought to establish our independence, 
prepared to take their part in the conflict and on May 6, 1861, 
assembled in town meeting, ' ' To see what action if any the town 
will take in relation to the alarming state of affairs which seri- 
ously imperils the perpetuity and liberty of our beloved coun- 
try." Eighty-six years had passed since the Dracut military 
companies had responded to the call to fight for liberty and 
freedom from oppression. The militia law, which called upon 
every able bodied man to equip and perform military duty for 
a stated time every year, had been abolished. A list was pre- 
pared of the names of those men who were of proper age and 
whose physical condition would enable them to serve, but no 
companies were formed or taught the duties of a soldier as 
had been done in former years. At the meeting already men- 
tioned, the town voted "to pay each man who has gone or who 


may go $10 per month from time of enlistment to time of dis- 
charge if mustered into actual service." There was no lack of 
patriotism in the people of Dracut, the able bodied enlisted, 
money and supplies were furnished, but the lessons governing 
the art of war must be learned as new conditions presented 
themselves. Already one Dracut man, Edmund Coburn, had been 
severely wounded on that memorable march through Baltimore 
on the 19th of April, 1861, and the sum of $30 had been granted 
him. He was a member of the same company with Ladd and 
Whitney who fell by the hands of a mob that day. The Mass. 
Register for 1862 records that "he was a farmer's son marching 
in the rear rank. He was hit on the head with bricks and a 
minie ball passed though his body. He felt no pain at first, but 
the wound bled. He struggled to keep up with his company by 
hopping along; but finding it impossible to do this, he fell out 
of the ranks, and someway succeeded in getting through the 
crowd into a store. He felt the baU which had passed through 
his body, breaking some of the bones, going down his leg into 
his boot. When he took off his boot the ball dropped out and 
he picked it up, expressing a desire to keep it. Some one asked 
to take it for a moment and it was never returned." 

The vote passed on May 6th was rescinded and a vote passed 
to equip a company in Dracut. This was also rescinded, as it 
was found that the Dracut men were enlisting in companies 
raised principally in Lowell, and as some preferred to perform 
duties in the navy, while others desired service on land, a com- 
pany formed for any particular service would not receive a suit- 
able number of men and this vote which was accompanied by 
an appropriation of .$2,000 was also rescinded. 

As the war progressed a bounty of $125 in gold was paid 
each man to fill the quota assigned to each town. Although for 
obvious reasons no companies were formed as at the time of 
the Revolution, the citizens were loyal and contributed freely 
of their substance and rendered aid to the families of those 
who had enlisted. The women were active in raising money by 
means of fairs and sent boxes to the soldiers containing comforts 
not to be obtained otherwise. 

A comparison between the conditions which existed at the 
time of the Revolution and those of the Civil War is instructive. 


During the first named war there was no means of transporta- 
tion, the men marched to the scene of conflict as is shown by 
referring to Micah Hildreth's diary found on another page. 
Food and clothing were conveyed by ox and horse teams for 
their support. Couriers were the bearers of messages from 
headquarters to the regiments in remote places, the muzzle 
loading musket with its flint lock required a powder horn, bul- 
let pouch and extra flints to be carried, the facilities for the 
relief of the sick and wounded were crude and the transmission 
of letters was unreliable. At the commencement of the Civil 
War the steam roads conveyed the soldiers quickly to their 
destination with ammunition and other supplies, the telegraph 
was in operation, the more modern rifle with cartridge was in 
use, skillful surgeons and nurses employed and hospitals pro- 
vided while the work of the post ofBce was reduced to a system. 

List of Soldiers from Dracut 

Atis E. Ansart 
Benjamin F. Ansart 

Edward Bahan 
Kirk H. Bancroft 
Frank M. Bassett 
Gershom C. Bassett 
Martin L. Bassett 
George Bean 
James Birmingham 
John Blake 
Edward Bliss 
Orford R. Blood 
Ira Bowers 
James Boyd 
George Boyle 
William Braniger 
Owen Brannan 
Roscavius Brown 
William Buck 
Edward Burns 

Horace A. Burroughs 
Charles W. Butler 
Freeman H. Butler 
Brooks Butterfield 
George B. Butterfield 
Edward Butters 
Horace Butters 

Thomas Gallon 
John Carney 
Harvey B. Chase 
Appleton F. Cheever 
Oliver Cheever 
Thomas Church 
Henry Clair 
Wardwell Clough 
Timothy Clark 
Addison G. Coburn 
Albert N. Coburn 
Charles Coburn 
Edmund Coburn 


Edward Coburn 
Frank Coburn 
George A. Coburn 
George H. Coburn 
Howard Coburn 
James M. Coburn 
Grin G. Coburn 
Oscar Coburn 
Russell Cochran 
John H. Colburn 
William Cochran 
Charles C. Colton 
John J. Colton 
Michael Costello 
John Cogan 
Garrett Conlon 
James Cox 
Charles Crandall 
Dennis Crehan 
John Crehan 
Ira M. Cross 
George Cumber 

Albert 0. Davidson 
John M. Davis 
Jonathan Davis 
Martin Davis 
Oliver Davis 
Osgood Davis 
Thomas Davis 
Gardner M. Dean 
Gordon M. Dean 
William Dillingham 
Daniel Donohoe 
Patrick Donoghue 
William H. Dorr 
Dennis Doyle 
John Duncan 
Timothy Dunn 

Henry M. Everest 
John Q. A. Ferguson 
John P. Fitzgerald 
Nathaniel P. Ford 
Peter W. Ford 
Darius F. Fuller 
Charles Gilmore 
Byron H. Griswold 
Charles Green 
David H Goodhue 
William B. Goss 
Isaac B. Gould 
Herbert M. Hall 
Joseph Hallowell 
Albert Hamblett 
Arthur Hamblett 
Benjamin S. Hamblett 
Henry M. Hand 
Calvin Harris 
Samuel N. Harris 
John Hirwin 
John M. Hodge 
John H. Housler 
Edwin Hovey 
James K. Howard 
Asa Howe 
Augustus M. Jones 
James Jones 
John D. Jones 
Prescott L. Jones 
Michael Kelley 
George M. Kimball 
E. F. Kittredge 
James Lee 
Charles Lovering 
Michael Loughlin 
Francis M. Lunt 


Martin Lynch 
Thomas Lyons 
James C. Marshall 
Luther M. Marshall 
Simeon M. Marshall 
J. P. Maxfield 
James McAneny 
Patrick McCarty 
William McCutcheon 
John McDuncan 
John MeNabb 
Alonzo J. Melvin 
Shapleigh Morgan 
Benjamin C. Morrison 
Charles Nelson 
Franklin G. Norris 
Coifran Nutting 
Alexander Park 
Eugene D. Park 
Orrin K. Park 
Alpheus Parker 
Moses G. Parker 
Nathan Parker 
Peter Pendergast 
Edward Phipps 
John Pierce 
Dumlar Ravonpillar 
John Reall 
Albert Richardson 
Amos T. Richardson 
Charles D. Richardson 
Charles H. Richardson 
Ephraim 0. D. Richardson 
George P. Richardson 
George Richardson 
Henry E. Richardson 
Lorenzo Richardson 
Luther L. Richardson 

Monroe Richardson 
Silas Richardson 
Patrick Riley 
William Rippman 
James Schofield 
John Shaughnessey 
James 0. Sherman 
Charles Short 
William E. Short 
Charles E. Smith 
George Smith 
Newton P. Smith 
Thomas Smith 
William H. Smith 
Daniel Smithson 
William H. Snow 
John Stackpole 
Peter K. Staples 
Charles H. Stickney 
Abel Stone 
Joseph A. Stuart 
George W. Swain 
George Short 
Andrew W. Thissell 
Charles A. Thissell 
Joseph Thissell 
William F. Todd 

Philip Ulriek 

Atkinson C. Varnum 
John Varnum 
Joseph B. Varnum 
Charles P. Vincent 

John Webb 
James Welch 
Enos H. Wlieeler 
John White 
Thomas White 


James M. Whitney William T. Wilson 

Alexander Wilson Francis E. Wolstenholme 

Lafayette Wilson Harry A. Wood 

Indian Wars 
The inhabitants of North America, at the time of its dis- 
covery were called Indians, as the general opinion of that time 
was that the eastern coast of India had been reached. As the 
early settlers occupied the land, the Indians retreated toward 
the West and, naturally aggressive, opposed the march of civi- 
lization. At the close of the Ci\al War, steps were taken by the 
Government to keep them in subjection, by sending troops from 
the regular army. 

Two men, graduates of West Point, served in this war. 
Philip Reade, born in Dracut, October 13, 1844, was a descendant 
of the Reades, Hildreths and Coburns, who served in the war 
of the Revolution. He received the appointment of Lieutenant 
when leaving the Military Academy and was active in the cam- 
paigns against the savages. His proficiency in other lines led 
the government to appoint him to the duty of establishing tele- 
graph lines across the continent, and later, for -several years, he 
was superintendent of rifle practice. He served in the war with 
Spain in 1898, being assigned to duty in the Philippines. Pro- 
moted to the ranks of Captain and Major, his last oflSce in 
active service was that of Colonel, and he was retired with the 
rank of Brigadier General. 

Charles A. Varnum was born in Dracut and received his 
instruction in the public and private schools of the town. He 
was appointed to the Military School at West Point and gradu- 
ated at the time of the campaigns against the Indians. He was 
active in the service, being wounded in one of the battles, and 
after several years of service was retired with the rank of Major. 
The Spanish War 
In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed from Palos, Spain, 
on a voyage of discovery. For several years he had endeavored 
to persuade the governments of the Old World to assist him to 
discover a new Hemisphere, but they regarded his belief as 
visionary. Isabella, then Queen of Spain, rendered the assist- 
ance needful and by this discovery claimed jurisdiction over the 


country. Gradually these possessions were relinquished until 
only Cuba and adjoining islands remained. These were governed 
in such an oppressive manner that the United States was com- 
pelled to interfere and Spain relinquished her claim to the 
islands. Three young men from Dracut were in the service. 
Arthur E. Garland, enlisted May 6, 1898, in Co. C, Sixth Regi- 
ment, and went to Cuba, but his term of service was limited on 
account of sickness and he was sent home. Eden C. Walker also 
enlisted and served in the ambulance department. George H. 
Connell was also in the service and was in the infantry. One 
other Dracut man took part in this war, although not enlisting 
from Dracut. This was Joseph G. Eaton, who held the rank of 
Admiral and commanded the "Resolute," which was engaged in 
carrying supplies. His body is buried in the Oakland Cemetery. 

The women of Dracut have always been patriotic and help- 
ful in time of war. During the war of the Revolution, the women 
managed the farms, molded bullets and spun and wove the 
clothing for the soldiers. In the same spirit the women of the 
coimtry assisted in the Civil War preparing needful articles for 
the men at the front and serving as nurses in the hospitals. 
When war with Spain was declared, the Mass. Volunteer Aid 
Association was organized in Lowell and the women of Dracut 
formed an auxiliary association. It was thought advisable to 
assist by furnishing money and fairs were held for this purpose. 
The report of the Secretary furnishes information relating to 
the first public meeting. "The evening of July 21, 1898, the 
Center Church common was a blaze of light, our national colors 
were flung to the breeze, and the Star Spangled Banner was 
sung to a large concourse of people. Friends from the city helped 
to make the programme of the evening a patriotic entertainment 
and so successful were we that the sum of .$160 was sent to 
the Association." 

Dracut men have held high rank in military service, and 
while reference has been made to some of these, a list will prove 

James M., the oldest son of Samuel Varnum, was commis- 
sioned a Brigadier-General of the Continental Army, under date 
of February 21, 1777. On May 10, 1779, he- received the com- 
mission of Major-General of the State of Rhode Island. 


Joseph B., a brother of James M., a Captain in the Kevolu- 
tion, received the appointment of Colonel of the 7th Regt. Mass. 
Militia, April 4, 1787. He was promoted November 22, 1802, 
to the rank of Brigadier-General, and June 12, 1805, received 
the commission of Major-General. 

James Varnum, son of John Varnum, served in the Revo- 
lution, holding the rank of Captain, dated April 19, 1776, and 
after the Revolution was Colonel in the State Militia. 

Lewis Ansart was Inspector General of foundries for the 
casting of cannon during the Revolution and held the office of 

John Varnum, son of Colonel Prescott Varnum, enlisted in 
1861, and served through the war, and at its close he retired 
with the rank of Major. He was afterward appointed Major- 
General and Adjutant-General of the State of Florida. 

In Col. James Varnum 's return of the 3d Regt., 2d Brigade, 
Mass. Militia, the names of Josiah and William Hildreth appear 
in the list of Captains of companies, and Capt. William after- 
ward became a General in the Mass. Militia. 

Captain Stephen Russell and Capt. Peter Coburn com- 
manded companies in the Revolution. 

Philip Reade entered West Point when a young man and 
remained in the anuy until he was retired with the rank of 

Frederick, son of Bradley Varnum, was Lieutenant in the 
Navj', serving in 1833 on board the Ship Columbus, and was 
appointed Commander, March 8, 1841. He was stationed six 
years in the Mediterranean. 

Joseph Sladen served in the Civil War and at its close 
continued in the service and received the commission of Briga- 

Charles A., son of Adjutant-General John Varnum, after 
service in the regular army and taking part in the campaigns 
against the Indians, was retired with the rank of Major. 

The state law requiring every able bodied man to serve a 
certain number of days in the year in the training field was 
repealed about 1850 and enlistment in the ranks is now volun- 
tary, but the companies so formed are subject to the military 
laws of the state. 



THE years which followed the year 1913 have wrought 
stupendous changes, politically, in the countries of Europe 
and confirmed the truth of the saying that "History repeats 
itself." From 1871 to the year just mentioned, no wars of any 
magnitude were waged in Europe. The Boer War in which 
England was engaged was conducted in Africa, and although 
the nations of Europe were jealous of each other and held their 
armies and navies in readiness for action if needed, the country 
was at peace. From the time of the close of the Civil War in 
1865, in America, no war has existed on the American conti- 
nent (as the Spanish War of 1898 was fought in Cuba and the 
Philippines), until the present time. 

The advancement of civilization, the enlightenment of the 
mind, the barbarity of war, the perfection to which death-dealing 
instruments of war had reached, and the long period of com- 
parative peace had led the nations to hope that the horrors and 
devastation of war had ceased. Commissioners had met together 
to discuss disarmament and terms by which this desirable end 
might be accomplished. 

The desire for universal dominion entertained by the Em- 
peror of Germany had been possessed by others in former years 
who, having the authority to rule a small territory, desired a 
more extended sway. Before the Christian era, Alexander the 
Great aspired to the conquest of the world, but his success led 
to his downfall and death while in the prime of life. In later 
times the same spirit was manifested by Napoleon Bonaparte, 
who, entering military life as a Lieutenant of Artillery, became 
Emperor of France and endeavored to conquer the world. 

The laws of nature and humanity seem to forbid such a 
concentration of power in the hands of one man, and Bonaparte 
ended his life on the Island of St Helena, in exile. The Empire 
of Prussia was nearly surrounded by petty principalities, each 
governed by princes or dukes, until Emperor William and Bis- 


mark created the German Empire and included all under one 

In 1914, Germany declared war against France, having as 
allies, Austria, Turkey and Bulgaria. The allies of France were 
England, Russia and Belgium and before it closed on November 
11, 1918, a large part of the countries of the world were in a 
state of war. The United States remained neutral until 1917, 
when repeated insults by Germany and the success of the Central 
Powers, as Germany and her allies were called, obliged the 
United States to declare war, April 6, 1917, and the arrival in 
Europe of the American soldiers was the cause of the defeat of 
the Central Powers and the overthrow of the German Empire. 

Names op Soldiers from Dracut Who Served in This War 

John F. Briscoe 
Antonio Bernier 
Ernest Boivineval 
George E. Benoit 
Isadore Boucher 
Louis Bernier 
Israel Boulet 
Adelard H. Bourgeois 
Robert C. Blakely 
Lawrence Brennan 
Paul L. Burden 
Frank S. Burden 
Charles E. Bixby 

Arthur H. Cashin 
Ralph H. Cobum 
Rodney C. Cobum 
Everett 0. Coburn 
Napoleon Cardinal 
Z. Prince Coburn 
Robert Campbell 
Leroy Caverly 
Daniel J. Collins 
Thomas Collins 

Chester J. Canney 
James F. Costello 
Forrest H. Calhoun 
Charles F. Clevette 
William H. Cullinan, Jr. 
Wesley Crosby 
John Ciesla 

George Decelle 
Augustus L. Button 
Arthur DeceUe 
Leander P. Davidson 
Cecil P. Dodge 
Elie Dufour 
Joseph E. Dufour 
Alfred Dufour 
Anthony Drouin 

Lynwood D. Foster 
Carminio Fascoine 
Ernest Firth 
Archie Fox 
Lester H. Pox 


George Garner 
Armand J. Guenard 
Saul Joseph Gordon 
Henry J. Grenier 
Edward Girard 
Edmund H. Gunther 
John T. Gorman 
John Gendreau 
William Gendreau 
Roderique Gendreau 
Arthur C. Gunther 
Raymond Gendreau 

David A. Hanlon 
Everett Hayward 
Harvey R. Hayward 
Herman L. Hodge 
Royal K. Hayes 
Roland Hill 
Harold Hill 
John Harrison 
Harold F. Harrison 
Samuel Newell Harris 
Charles Harwood 
Thomas Higgins 
John J. Higgins 
Prank Hobbs 
Clifford R. Harvey 
Paul Lockhart Hutchinson 
Stewart Frank Hunt 
Harold D. Hutchinson 
Galen H. Harvey 

Edward Irving Johnson 
Charles E. Jones 

James P. Kiernan 
Florian J. King 

Roy H. Linscott 
Jacob Laehut 

Joseph N. Laflamme 
Walter E. Leslie 
Joseph A. Lessard 
Alexander Lessard 
Arthur Levesque 

Romeo Methot 
Hugh Fred Maguire 
Henry J. Murphy 
Harry McLellan 
Howard V. McCoy 
Harold McAnney 
Joseph Francis McNamara 
Arthur C. Mitchell 
Ernest Mooney 
George Mozley 

Charles Nelson 
Herbert 0. Nichols 

John Ouimmette 
George O'Malley 

Theodore Perry 
Hector Pilotte 
Wilson H. Pollard 
William Perreault 
Waldo N. Pierce 
Benoit Poirrer 
Albert L. Pelton 
Elzear Perry 
Alfred Perreault 

William Robertson 
John J. Roughan 
Thomas B. Roughan 
Caleb F. Rogers 
Jesse Richardson 
Roscoe Richardson 


Asa Richardson 
Delmer E. Richardson 
Arthur Gilbert Richardson 
Leo Roth 

David Scott 
WilUam W. Scott 
Benno W. Shafter 
Lionel Stewart 
Manuel P. Sauris 
Alexander M. Shanks 
Michael P. Sullivan 
Leo Sherlock 
Edgar Sykes 
Mollis C. Simpson 
Daniel Sullivan 
Raymond R. Stevens 
Edwin Shore 

Franklin "W. Thomas 
George Touissaint 
Charles Therrien, Jr. 

Herbert Taylor 
William H. Taff 
Edward H. Taff 
Joseph C. Taff 
Alfred J. Tremblay 
Harry W. Thomas 

Richard E. Udell 
Percy R. Wilson 
Edward Walsh 
Frank R. Walters 
Alexander Wilson 
George Leo Wayne 
Arthur L. Witherall 
Benjamin Witherall 
Raymond A. Willett 

Edgar A. Yates 
Richard Young 

John Zarnowski 

These men served in the different organizations which com- 
posed the American army. They were found in the infantry, 
artillery, and batteries, and were in the navy, the quai'termas- 
ter's department and the aviation corps. Their duties, while 
primarily those of fighting men, included clerical work, remov- 
ing the wounded in ambulances, placing in position telephone 
wires, police duty and serving as cooks and bakers. They were 
in the hardest battles and manifested the same spirit which 
animated our ancestors whenever called upon to defend our 
rights and liberties. 

Among the many organizations, in which were Dracut men, 
mention may be made of the 319th Regt. Field Artillery, which 
was engaged in the section called the Argonne Meuse Forest. 
This battle was one in which the enemy was defeated and its 
influence was felt in the confidence which it gave to the allied 
forces and the depression which followed the defeat of the Cen- 


tral Powers. At St. Mihiel the regiment was at the front and by 
skillful placing in position of the cannon rendered valuable 
assistance and contributed to the success of the engagement. The 
official history of the 82d divison refers in terms of praise to 
this 319th Regiment of Artillery. Draeut men were also mem- 
bers of Battery F, 102d Field Artillery, which composed a part 
of the 26th Division U. S. A. In a book entitled "Our Miracle 
Battery," written by George Mozley, a Draeut man and mem- 
ber of Battery F, incidents are recorded relating to the engage- 
ments at Chemin Des Dames, Seichprey-Xivray, St. Mihiel, 
Meuse-Argonne, Chateau Thierry, and other places. Mr. Mozley 
has given permission to the copying of extracts from this in- 
teresting book which will in a measure convey to the readers 
how the battles of the present day are fought. 

' ' The next day, February 5th, as we rode along in the train 
we noticed old trenches, barbed wire, etc., and just about dark 
we arrived at Pommiers, where we unloaded. It was then very 
dark and we moved over the roads until we arrived at some 
old barracks, formerly German property, about seven miles 
from the front line. After taking care of our horses, we retired 
for a few hours' sleep with the exception of those who were 
given guard duty. The next morning we could hear the guns 
booming in the distance. We put branches, etc., on our guns, to 
camouflage them. We were ordered to keep out of sight for a 
number of planes were flying around and some of them might 
be Germans. 

"On February 8th, while we were at the same place, we 
noticed some American Infantrj--men coming xvp the road. They 
were Co. M of the 104th Infantry. As a large number of them 
were formerly of the 6th Regt. of Massachusetts, we found many 
acquaintances. On that afternoon we went to a nearby ruined 
village, where to test our gas masks, we put them on and went 
into a cave where there was gas. 

"Early the next morning, February 9th, we left for the 
front. About noon we noticed some planes at which the French 
anti-aircraft guns were firing, so we knew that they were German 
planes. Suddenly we heard a shrill noise and then an explosion. 
What was it? We moved along quickly and then one of our 


officers said that the noise we heard was a shell, no doubt di- 
rected at us by the German aviator. 

"On Monday, February 11, 1918, the whole Battery fired 
its first shot at the enemy in the World War. We now had an 
opportunity of seeing what the enemj' seemed to take pleasure 
in doing — destroying, for we noticed orchards everywhere where 
the trees had been sawed a few feet from the ground and toppled 
over. The churches, gravestones, etc., had been smashd to dust. 
* * * Enemy planes came flying around the Echelon as well 
as the position to get information. Guards were stationed at 
both places to notify iu such cases and also to notify in case of 
gas. When the enemy was over at night, it was a wonderful 
sight to see the searchlights, of the French, cross each other in 
the sky, endeavoring to locate the plane, that shots might be 
directed at it. On certain nights a large number of planes would 
go over and we were told that this was one of the routes the 
enemy took to bomb Paris. ' ' 

Of Seichprey we learn that "all night the shelling con- 
tinued and at 3.30, on the morning of the 20th, the enemy came 
over the top to get Seichprey. Gas was everywhere. The guns 
boomed on both sides and the Battery fired for ten solid hours. 
All the high explosives had to be used. Each piece fii-ed 950 
rounds, when the orders came to pile up all shrapnel, there being 
50 left per gun. At '409' the gims had to be pushed out so as 
to cover the proper places. Consequently there was no protection. 
All the wires were cut and the Special Detail men were trying 
to repair them. The last report over the wires was 'Germans 
enter Seichprey — still coming.' * * * When communication 
was finally established all batteries of the regiment received 
orders to fire at one particular spot. We later heard that the 
reason for it was that two mobile batteries had been drawn up 
and were doing a great deal of damage. They were annihilated 
by our regimental fire." 


UNDER the Colonial law the inhabitants of every newly 
settled town were obliged to maintain a minister and have 
regular religious services as soon as their circumstances would 
permit. It was one of the conditions of the incorporation of 
Dracut "That the inhabitants of said land assist in the mainte- 
nance of the ministry at the town of Chelmsford as at present 
they do until they are provided with a minister as the law 
directs. ' ' 

"A church ofScer of whatever degree was an officer only of 
his own church. According to the primitive doctrine and prac- 
tice of New England, no man was a clergyman in any sense 
either before his election by a particular church or after his 
relinquishment of the special trust so conferred. And even while 
in office he was a layman to all the world except his own con- 
gregation and was not competent to exercise any clerical func- 
tions elsewhere. In the earliest times, ministers were ordained, 
not by other ministers, but by officers of the church which elected 
him or, when it had no officers, then by some of its private 
members. No marriage by ministers was legal, but a civil con- 
tract was made before a magistrate." 

The First Congregational Church 

Among the earliest records of the town we find an attempt 
to provide a house of worship. Under date of March 6, 1711, 
is recorded, "At a general town meeting unanimously agreed 
by a generall vote for building of a meeting house. Also by a 
general town meeting voted and made choice of the West end 
of Flag meadow hill to be the yard to set the meeting house 
on." For some reason unrecorded the action was not completed, 
for we find the following on record : 

"Dracut December ye 8th day in the year 1714. At a gen- 
eral Town meeting of the Inhabitants that was warned by the 


selectmen of the town for to meet and to see in what manner 
to build a meeting house for our town and to begene it this 
year. And it was granted by the aforesaid town meeting that 
the meeting house should be 30 feet longe and 25 feet wide. 
Also it was granted six pounds of money to be paid towards 
the building of said house. 30 pounds in the next year in July 
insueing, 30 pounds in the month of July 1716. Also it is granted 
for four cattle and a man a day five shillings and so according, 
and two shillings one man a day for getting timber, also it is 
granted Thomas Coburu, Ezra Colburn, Joseph Colburu, Thomas 
Vamum, John Varnum should be trustees for the above said 
town to hire and agree with men for to build said meeting house 
above named & give a true account to the town of their ex- 
penses to get the work done as cheap as they can. This is a true 
account done at a general To\vn meeting. 

Joseph Colburn 
Samuel Colburn 

Selectmen. ' ' 

The next year it was voted to build the house larger, two 
feet more in length, three feet in width and a shed twenty feet 
in length. 

April 11, 1715: "Voted to purchase 1 Barrel of cider and 
such a quantity of rum as the trustees may see fit to be used 
while building the meeting house." As we read of the small 
amount of money which was appropriated we conclude that 
much of the labor would be contributed by the men who would 
be benefitted by a building in the vicinity. There was an abun- 
dance of lumber of little value, it was near John Varnum 's saw 
mill at the Pawtucket falls, and but little money would be 
needed aside from that used to pay expert workmen to oversee 
the work. The next year it was again voted to set the building 
near Flag Meadow Hill and the boundaries of the lot defined. 
The location was on the south side of Varnum avenue and ad- 
joining on the east the homestead of the late Dea. Abel Coburn. 
This piece of land has been kno^^Ti as the meeting house lot. 

An account of early customs relates: "An important and 
interesting adjunct of the meeting house, in some parts of the 
country was the Sabba' Day House. Comfort being carefuUy 


shut out of the meeting house was only then rudely provided 
for in such subordinate structures. The Sabba ' Day House was 
a family affair, generally comprising but a single apartment, 
perhaps fifteen feet square with windows and a fireplace. It 
was very plainly and sparsely furnished. Chairs for the old 
people and benches for the children stood around the walls and 
a table in the center might hold the Bible and a few religious 
books and pamphlets, while at one side shelves contained dishes 
for cooking and eating. Sometimes the Sabba' Day House was 
mounted above a shed in which the horse could be sheltered. 
A group of such cabins standing about the meeting house added 
not a little to the picturesqueness of the spot and their use con- 
duced greatly to the convenience and comfort of Sabbath wor- 
ship especially in winter. ' ' 

Many families owned foot stoves which may be seen in 
museums. These were small perforated tin boxes enclosed in a 
square frame and carried in the hand like a dinner box, which 
would be filled with hardwood coals either at the Sabba' Day 
House or at a neighbor's fireplace. Besides furnishing coals, the 
Sabba' Day House provided a place where the cold dinners were 
eaten and where the housewives could exchange ideas relating 
to housekeeping and the men discuss farm topics and the politi- 
cal situation. The oldest women in the family were entitled to 
the use of the footstove while the children would rap their feet 
together to promote circulation. If there was only one footstove 
in the family the dog would be brought in and the younger 
members would receive some degree of warmth by holding their 
feet on him. At the annual town meeting one of the offices to 
be filled was that of dog thumper whose duty it was to keep 
the dogs from fighting during the services. The introduction 
of stoves for the purpose of warming the meeting house was 
strongly opposed but when once admitted the Sabba' Day 
Houses disappeared. The pews were square with seats on the 
four sides. A door was attached to each one and the seats, 
boards without cushions, were fastened to the side with hinges 
and raised when the people were standing. Only the aged or 
feeble were allowed to remain seated during the long prayer 
and at its close the children would replace the board seats, 
which had been raised, making as much noise as possible, much 


to the dismay of the elders. A flight of steps led to the pulpit. 
In front of the pulpit and facing the congregation could be 
seen the deacon's seat, while in the large galleries were seated 
the singers, the indigent and colored people and families who 
could not be seated in the audience room. Above the pulpit 
was the sounding board, bell shaped, and designed to deflect 
the sound of the minister's voice down to the congregation. 
Such, in brief, is the description of the meeting houses of a 
century ago and there was little variation from the bam-like 
appearance outwardly. When a minister was considered a proper 
man for the place he would be settled for life and pastorates 
extending over a period of sixty years were not unusual. Church 
attendance was obligatory and non-attendants were brought 
into court and fined. 

The following is the record of the grand jury in 1730 re- 
lating to this matter: 

"Middl ss At His Majestys Court of General Sessions of 
the Peace holden at Charlestown for and within the County of 
Middlx on the Second Tuesday of December being the eighth 
day of said month Anno Dom : Seventeen hundred and thirty 
In the fourth years of His Majestys Reign By His Majestys 
justices of said court, James Richardson of Dracut Husband- 
man as Principal in Five pounds and John Colburn of Dracut 
Husbandman Surety in the like Sum of Five pounds became 
indebted to the King to be leyyed on their several Goods or 
Chatties Conditioned that he the said James Richardson & 
James Richardson Jun. his son Shall appear at the next court 
of General Sessions of the Peace for Middlx to answer to the 
Presentment of the Grand Jurors for not attending Publick 
Worship of God. ' ' 

In 1711 a Mr. Hail or Hale conducted services for a time 
and received the sum of "43 shillings 4 pence." The same year 
a call was extended to Mr. Amos Cheever to become the pastor at 
an annual salary of fiftj' pounds with a promise of increased pay 
if the town was able to give it. He was to have eighty pounds 
allowed him for the purpose of erecting a dwelling house. The 
original letter in which this offer was made is in existence. A 


similar offer was presented to Mr. Wigglesworth, who also de- 
clined to accept it. It is noticeable that no title was prefixed 
to these names. 

October 15, 1718, the town "mad choise of Mr. Mackgger to 
settle in Dracut to prech the Gospel and to do the whole work of 
a settled minister; and likewise voted to give to Mr. MacGregor 
65 pounds for his salary for the first four years. ' ' 

Rev. James MacGregor, with several families of his parish 
in the north of Ireland, had arrived in America that year. While 
endeavoring to find a suitable place in which to settle. Rev. Mr. 
MacGregor came to Dracut and received the call to become their 
pastor. But his duties to his own people forbade his acceptance 
although he consented to perform the duties as pastor for a time 
and taught the town school in the winter of 1718-19. The fol- 
lowing May he removed, with his associates, to Londonderry, 
N. H., where they became the first settlers of the town. In 1720, 
a call was extended to Rev. Thomas Parker, at that time only 19 
years of age, but who so strongly impressed the people with his 
ability and fitness to perform the duties of the office that his 
youth was not considered as unfitting him to become the pastor. 

His reply was as follows : 

"Chelmsford, Jan. 30, 1720. 

To the inhabitants of the town of Dracut : 

I received your vote the S"* of this instant January by the 
hands of Capt. Varnum and Lieut. Hildreth, wherein I imder- 
stand you have unanimously made choice of me to be your set- 
tled minister. I have perused and considered your offer also 
understanding your earnest desire that I should settle amongst 
you. I can find no fault with what you have been pleased to offer 
and I do therefore accept the same provided you do pay me 
quarterly. As you have been unanimous in your choice so I 
hope you ^viU always endeavor to live in peace and unanimity, 
that there be found a spirit of peace in each of you. I also beg 
your prayers to Almighty God for me, that I may prove a 
faithful minister of Christ and instrumental in saving many 
souls, that you may sit quietly and contentedly under my min- 
istry, that I may have a comfortable prospect of your being 
benefitted thereby, and that j'ou and I may so believe and manage 


ourselves that we may meet with comfort in this life and with 
peace at death ; and that we may lift up our heads with joy at 
the last day shall be the continual fervent prayer of me, one of 
the un worthiest of God's ministers. 

Thomas Paeker. 
"The action of the town is as follows: 

At a general town meeting made choice of Rev. Thomas 
Parker as their minister and voted to give him a call to settle at 
eighty pounds yearly for his salary. Voted that Captain Var- 
num, Quartermaster Coburn and Ephraim Hildreth carry the 
vote to Mr. Parker and that Quartermaster Coburn be paid sik 
pounds to provide for ye ordination." 

His letter of acceptance shows the spirit in which he entered 
upon the work and whicli enabled him to render such satisfactory 
service that he remained with the Church until his death, which 
occurred March 18, 1765, his term of service being forty-four 
years. Before his burial the town voted "To buy Madame 
Parker a morning suite also to buy six Rings for the Baires for 
sd Desest." At the time of his death there was a small burial 
place between Varnum avenue and the river which is still in 
existence and here he was laid to rest by those whom he had 
served so many years. His grave was marked and after a cen- 
tury had elapsed his remains were removed to the Woodbine 
cemetery on Old Meadow road. 

As the town increased in population and more families set- 
tled in the central and eastern portions the location of the meet- 
ing house became unsatisfactory, and in 1745 a town meeting was 
called for the purpose of selecting another site. There existed 
a great diversity of opinion as each section desired the location 
of the building in their vicinity. They finally decided "to build 
a meeting house for ye public worship of God, 45 feet in length 
and 35 feet in breadth and 2.3 feet between the plates and sills 
and that said meeting house shall be set on ye northwesterly 
side of ye Great road, on the easterly side of Mr. Nathan Simonds 
land near said road and near the easterly line of said Simonds 
land." Nathan Simonds was at that time the owner of one half 
of the 500 acres of the Indian Reservation, therefore the location 
must have been not far from Riverside street, then called the 


Great road. The site was unsatisfactory and on December 16th 
of the same year it was voted "to build the meeting house 44 
by 36 & 24 feet in the clear on the high land between Col. Var- 
nums house and the Old Meadow Path." This was Joseph 
Varnum who lived at the garrison house near the navy yard 
village and the location chosen seems to have been further north 
than the one chosen the preceding May. 

Neither site was satisfactory to all parties and no further 
action was taken until February 10, 1747-8, when the town again 
voted to build a meeting house and ' ' to sett it at the Southwest 
corner of John Bowers his homestead by a Great majority in 
writing. ' ' The Bowers homestead was at the northeast corner of 
Hovey square, opposite the Hovey house. This action caused 
the town to be divided into factions and a controversy com- 
menced which was so bitter that the inhabitants of the west part 
of the town appealed to the General Court by a petition in which 
they rehearsed the past actions of the town in building the first 
house, settling a minister, etc., and set forth the recent votes of 
the town in regard to the different sites selected. The situation 
will be better understood if the petition is recorded. Omitting 
the legal formalities the substance of the petition is : 

"27 May 1745 the town did vote and agree upon a place for 
Rebuilding the said meeting house about a mile to the northward 
from the 1st meeting house. That notwithstanding said votes 
the Inhabits have called another meeting and on the 10th of 
Feb. last did by a majority of votes grant that a meeting house 
should be built at the Southwest corner of the John Bowers home- 
stead at least a mile eastward from ye place agreed upon ye 
27 of May as aforesaid and further granted two hundred pounds 
of the last Emission [papermoney] to be laid out in building 
the same which last mentioned place is upward of two miles 
eastward from the first meeting house" and further prayed that 
a committee be appointed ' ' to view and appoint the most reason- 
able place for a meeting house." The petitioners state that they 
believe by the action of the town that two meeting houses are to 
be built at the towns charge without separating the inhabitants 
and if so they request that they may be divided into two towns 
or parishes. 


The petitioners 
John Varnuin 
John Littlehale 
Abraham Varnum 
Edward Coburn 
Josiah Coburn 
Thomas Varnum 
Samuel Winn 
Caleb Parker 
Ephraim Colburn 
Edward Coburn Jr. 


John Littlehale Jr. 
Robert Lindsay 
James Richardson 
John Williams 
Joseph Colburn 
Ezra Littlehale 
Ezekiel Richardson Jr. 
Aaron Coburn 
Abraham Coburn 
Daniel Coburn 

These signers can be identified as residents of the west 
part of the town. In answer to the petition the General Court 
ordered April 7, 1748, "that Col. Richards and Mr. Brewer with 
such as shall be joined by the Hon. Board be a Committee to 
view the Situation & Circumstances of the Town of Dracut at 
the charge of the petitioners & report what they judge proper 
for this Court to do in this Petition and all proceedings respect- 
ing building a meeting house are stayed in the meantime." A 
counter petition was presented April 15, 1748 by those citizens 
who favored the placing of the building on the Bowers' lot. It 
was signed by: 

Jacob Coburn 
Samuel Varnum 
Levi Hildreth 
Simeon Colburn 
Kendall Parker 
David Parker 
William Hill 
Stephen Russell 
Jonathan Crosby 
Robert Wright 
Josiah Richardson Jr. 
David Pox 
James Emery 
Jonathan Emery 
John Crage 
Francis Nickles 

John Varnum Jr. 
Edward Taylor 
Stephen Kimball 
Thomas Hildreth 
Stephen Russell Jr. 
Stephen Farmer 
Alexander Lindsay 
Jacob Colburn Jr. 
Joseph Chamberlain 
Joseph Chamberlain Jr. 
Darius Harris 
Ephraim Curtis Jr. 
Ephraim Richardson 
Stephen Wood 
Daniel Fox 


The Legislative Committee decided that the proper place 
for the location was "on the height of land in the highway be- 
tween the barn of Col. Varnum and the orchard of said Varnum 
northwesterly of said barn. This decision would locate the build- 
ing on the west side of Beaver brook as proposed three years 
previous to this time. This report was adopted by the Council as 
the Senate was then called, but the House did not concur and 
thus the matter was left as before. The town clerk's record of 
August 22, 1748, states the action of the town "Voted to accept 
the meeting house that was voted to be set up at the Southwest 
corner of John Bowers homestead lot to stand and be finished 
at the Highway Southward of Capt John Colburns house where 
the frame is already raised." September 6, 1748, "Voted to 
take part or all of the old meeting house to finish the new." Not- 
withstanding this vote, the old house was offered for sale at 
auction in 1758 and purchased by Daniel Abbott, "he being the 
Highest Bider in sd Vandue. ' ' The exact site of the new house 
was ixnknown for many years, but following the transfer of the 
Capt. John Colburn homestead we can locate it very nearly. 
March 1, 1750 Capt. John Colburn conveyed his "homestead 
farm containing 60 acres lying on both sides of the road by the 
meeting house" to his son. Ensign Joshua Colburn. November 
4, 1757, Joshua deeded the dwelling house, barn and eight acres 
of land to Nathaniel Mitchell, a tanner and currier, whose vats 
were on Tanh'ouse brook. The tract is described as bounded "at 
the Southwest corner at a great stone in the end of a wall by the 
Northward side of the Townway, by the westerly side of the 
gate by the road aboiit three rods North Easterly from the 
North East corner of the meeting house in said town." 

The writer remembers this gate or, what is more probable, 
one of the later built gates which stood at the end of the lane 
which led from Pleasant street northward to the Swain house 
and which occupied the land on which the cottages on the west 
side of Upland street near the line of the Clark farm, are built. 
The southwest corner of this property on the street is the same 
as the southeast corner of the George M. Clark homestead. An 
old deed of this last named property, dated 1765, from Daniel 
Abbot to Rev. Nathan Davis gives the same distance from this 
bound to the "North East corner of the meeting house" as 


mentioned in the Mitchel deed, that is, about three rods. Meas- 
urements from this bound locate the front of the building at the 
line of the Justus Richardson land opposite the Clark house 
which stands at the corner of Clark and Pleasant streets. The 
north side was in the highway which is four rods wide at this 
place. The west end of the building must have been about 
thirteen rods eastward from the east line of Sladen street at its 
junction with Pleasant street. By placing the building in the 
highway the town avoided the expense of buying land and this 
recalls a statement found in an old diary written in 1679 and 
confirms the fact that the buildings were sometimes placed in 
the highway. 

Two travellers, visiting in the vicinity of New York City, 
write that they came "to the first village called Breuklen, which 
has a small and ugly little church in the middle of the road." 
On the south or front side there was a door midway between 
the ends of the building, also one at the east and west ends. When 
partly finished it was used as a house of worship and for town 
meetings, but the galleries were unfinished until 1754 as in that 
year it was ' ' Voted to Let out the finishing of the Gallery in the 
Meeting Hous to those that would appear to Do it cheapest and 
workman Like." At a town meeting in 1755 there was an 
article in the warrant ' ' To see if the town will dignifie the seats 
in the meeting house." It was voted to seat the meeting house 
in said town and a committee consisting of Samuel Varnum, 
Josiah Richardson, Robert Hildreth, Timothy Coburn and Sam- 
uel Coburn was appointed. Another vote declared "that the first 
in Dignity shall be the fore seat below and the second seat below 
in sd meeting house shall be the second seat in dignity and the 
fore seat in the front gallery shall be the third seat in Dignity in 
sd house and the fore seat in the side gallery shall be the fourth 
seat in Dignity and the third seat below shall be the fifth seat 
in Dignity and the second in the front gallery shall be the sixth 
seat in Dignity and the fourth seat below shall be the seventh 
seat in Dignity in sd meeting hous and also the second seat in 
the side gallery shall be the eighth seat in Dignity in sd hous." 
After dignifying the house the gallery seats were sold at 
" Vandue" or auction on condition "that those that Purchas Rite 
or Rites in sd pews shall not have liberty to sell or Dispose of 


the same without a lisanee from sd town and they that Purchas 
the same shall be obliged to set in them either themselves or by 
ther wyves or children or som friend but not to send a servant 
to set there or a childe under thirteen years of age or any other 
to Degrade sd seet or seets or to make uneasiness to their seet 
mats that Purchas a part or a Right in the same seet and Pews. ' ' 
They also voted ' ' to purchas a cover for the Gushing for the Desk 
for the meeting house in sd Dracut, ' ' and by separate vote they 
decided to "by a valvit one and to be of the same Choler as the 
one on the old desk. ' ' To keep it free from dust they voted ' ' to 
by som worshlather sheep skinn to cover sd cushing under sd 
sheep skinn." The pew owners were allowed to build their own 
pews but restrictions were placed on them in relation to size, 
height, etc. 

In 1768 they voted "not to appoint any seat in the meeting 
house for the negroes to sit in." Apparently it was not consid- 
ered necessary to specify any particular seats for them as it is 
not reasonable to suppose that they were to be excluded. A few 
specimens of the minor matters acted upon by the town, where 
now the church or society would take action are quoted from the 
records. "1786 To see if the town will choose one or more 
persons to assist Capt. Russell in pitching the tune. Also to 
see if the town will vote that singing shall be performed a part 
or all of the time without reading the psalm. Voted that Capt. 
Stephen Russell be assisted by Joseph B. Varnum, Moses Nowel 
and Joshua Bradley in setting the psalm. Also that singing be 
performed in the afternoon without reading the psalm." 

The singing at the church service was at first unaccom- 
panied by any instrument, so a pitch pipe, usually made of wood 
was used to give the pitch, and later when violins and bass viols 
were introduced opposition was made to their use because they 
were used at dances. These instruments with bassoons w^ere 
used until melodeons and, later, church organs superseded them. 
"Voted to appoint Capt. "William Hildreth, Capt. Josiah Hil- 
dreth, Lieut. Israel Hildreth, Lieut. Abraham Coburn and Lieut 
Micah Hildreth to be a committee to see that the Meeting House 
Doors be kept Shut on the day of the Ordination till the Council 
and Delegates and the Church are Ready to Enter the Meeting 

' and then open them." In 1786, "Voted that the minister 

(See P:i!?es 370-377) 

tieacox sEi.nEN rDi.iiui 


shall preach in the easterly part of the town a proportion of 
Sabbaths equal to the proportion of money they pay. (Except 
those persons who are against their money going that way. ) ' ' 
This was rather ambiguous but doubtless the meaning was under- 
stood by the voters. 

After the decease of Rev. Thomas Parker, in 1765, a call 
was extended to Rev. Nathan Davis, which he accepted and he 
was ordained the same year. He served as pastor sixteen years 
when he resigned and severed his connection with the church. 
During his term of service one Dr. Joseph Hunt, of Concord, 
removed the body of Sarah Sawyer, wife of Oliver Sawyer, from 
the public burial ground, and a warrant was placed in the 
hands of Constable Bradley Varnum for his arrest. The details 
of this transaction are lacking, but the removal must have been 
illegal and measures were taken for his arrest. Dr. Hunt after- 
ward applied for admission to the church at Concord, and a 
letter of recommendation was granted by Mr. Davis. For 
this he was severely criticised by the town people and in his 
letter of resignation, while not admitting the justness of this and 
other criticisms, he expresses the opinion that his usefulness as 
a pastor was ended in this town. He was afterward principal 
of the North Grammar School in Boston. In a newspaper 
published in Boston dated April 18, 1782, the following adver- 
tisement appears: 


A House and Land in Dracut near the Meeting 

Inquire of Nathan Davies in Boston." 

This property was the farm later owned by George M. Clark, 
whose house was located on the opposite side of the street from 
the site of the church building. There were no newspapers pub- 
lished nearer than Boston in which he could advertise while the 
statement "near the Meeting" might exert an influence on the 
prospective buyer. Dracut was fast increasing in population 
and the reserved land in the eastern section was becoming settled. 
By the loss of the northern part through the change in the Prov- 
ince line, as already noted, the shape of the town was materially 
changed, and was then about seven miles in length with a width 


of about three miles. Previous to this time the meeting house 
was centrally located, but now the families in the eastern section 
desired better accommodation by having the site of the church 
building nearer the east. Protests were entered by the inhabi- 
tants of the other sections who presented their claims for a new 
house in their part of the town. It was probably on account of 
this disagreement that a proposition was made to divide the town 
in 1790 as already recorded, and unite the present western half 
with Chelmsford. 

In 1783, at a time when this controversy' was in existence, an 
entry was made in the town records which is difificult to explain, 
but studying it in the light of the difficulty experienced in the 
settlement of the location of the meeting house it seems probable 
that there was a connection between the two transactions. A 
petition had been presented to the town, but not placed on record, 
and this had been referred back to the petitioners to see how 
many would sign it who were in favor of annexing the east part 
of Methuen. It was voted "that those persons who signed the 
petition with the Homestead farms shall be voted off in order to 
see if they could join with the westerly part of Methuen in order 
to make a town." None of these changes were made and for 
more than a century Dracut retained the shape in which it was 
left in 1741. 

In 1743 the demand for a new church building was urgent, 
but as no agreement could be reached in regard to the selection 
of the site, the town petitioned the General Court for permission 
to divide the parish, the annual appropriation to be divided be- 
tween the parishes and the minister to preach at both churches. 
Lieut. Israel Hildreth, who at that time represented the district, 
was severely censured by some of the Dracut citizens for his 
failure to get the bill passed but at a town meeting held later 
the voters upheld him. The town finally decided to place the 
new church building in the geographical center of the town. 
This was unsatisfactory as the most families resided in the 
western part, but a survey was made and the center was found 
to be in the low land where, later, Mr. A. P. Bryant had his 
wheelwright shop on Pleasant street. As this place was not 
considered suitable for a church building, it was decided to 
place it on the higher ground where it now stands. But this 


action was not allowed to be taken without a protest being signed 
by about forty inhabitants of the west part of the town and New 
Boston village. The signers gave reasons for their protest as 
follows : 

"We the subscribers, inhabitants of said town hereby enter 
our protest against the proceedings of said town in voting to 
build a meeting house on this 31st day of December 1793 near 
the house of Kendal Parker Jr. 1st Because we denie that being 
the proper center of said town. 2d Because the situation and the 
land is by no means suitable and does not accommodate the people 
so well as where the meeting house now stands. 3d Because it is 
making a needless and unreasonable cost to the town, when the 
present house with but little expense might be made to accommo- 
date the people and save the widows and orphans from a burden- 
some tax when they cannot have a voice in the business. For 
these and many other reasons we solemnh' and firmly enter our 
protest against all the votes that any way relate towards the 
building a meeting house at the above described place & hereby 
show that we do not consider ourselves held to pay any cost that 
may arise thereby. 

Lewis Ansart Jacob Goburn 

Thomas Varnum Jonathan Varnum 

Israel Hildreth Nathaniel Coburn 

Josiah Fox Daniel Blood 

Moses B. Coburn Joseph Webster 

Samuel Coburn Thadeus Coburn 

Parker Varnum Saul Coburn 

James Varnum Peter Coburn Jr. 

Ephraim Coburn Samuel Cummings 

Joseph Dean Peter Coburn 

Abraham Blood Jonathan Morgan 

Coburn Blood Simeon Williams 

Timothy Coburn Solomon Abbott Jr. 

Zachariah Goodhue Ezra Coburn 

Willard Coburn Jabesh Coburn 

Solomon Osgood Jr. Willard Coburn Jr. 

Jonathan Varnum Jr. Moses Clement 


John Hamblett Solomon 

Jeptha Coburn Jonathan Coburn Jr. 

Jonas Varnnm Hezekiah Coburn 

Life Wilson Aaron Coburn." 

Mr. A. C. Varnum in his "History of Pawtucket Church," 
records these statements: "But at length the town voted to build 
the house on the 'Central line' and put up the frame and boarded 
it ; and there being two parties about evenly divided, some time 
the town would vote to finish one house, and sometimes the other 
and of course very little progress was made." About the same 
time some of the people bought a plot of land of Jonathan Taylor, 
about a mile westerly of the "Central line" and put up the frame 
of a meeting house upon it and boarded it. 

The Jonathan Taylor land was on the north side of Hovey 
Square where the Blanehard hospital now stands. The deed 
which conveyed the land for a meeting house at the Center was 
dated January 14, 1794. The grantor was Obadiah Richardson, 
who conveyed one acre for the sum of 15 pounds to Parker 
Varnum, Joseph B. Varnum, Timothy Barker Jr., Richard Hall, 
Amos Bradley, Thomas Hovey, Moses Nowell, William Hildreth 
Jr. and Bradley Varnum, the committee appointed to purchase a 
lot on which to build a house and provide a common. It is de- 
scribed in the deed as "near Kindal Parker Jr's house on the 
north side of a townway leading from said Parkers to Prescott 
Varnums. The southeast corner was "six feet westwardly of a 
well called Miss Masseys well a few rods north of her house by 
or in the townway." Thence the line ran westwardly by a wall 
to the bars at the northwest corner of Kendal Parker's garden, 
then running northerly by the wall and townway leading to 
Nathaniel Jones' "so many rods as to compleat one acre, allow- 
ing the northerly end of said acre to be nine rods and one half, 
viz to run from the wall at the said town way eastwardly the 
said nine and a half rods to stake and stones thence southerly 
to the first bounds. ' ' 

In October of the same year Richardson sold the town an 
additional strip of ten square rods on the east of the acre. The 
well mentioned was used in recent years and known as Widow 
Masseys well. She was the widow of Bartholomew Massey and 


her homestead was that now owned by Henry N. Peabody. The 
families were more numerous and the citizens more prosperous at 
this time than when the second building was erected and this 
one was more speedily finished. In the meantime the sentiment 
in favor of building on the Taylor site at Hovey Square was so 
strong that by private subscription the frame of a church build- 
ing was erected, as before stated, and, later, the town was re- 
quested to reimburse these men, but their request was refused. 
It was evident that the shape of the town rendered it difficult for 
the families of the west part of the town to attend church and 
the town decided to establish two parishes, one with the new 
building for a center and one at Pawtucket bridge as the center 
of the west parish. The building at the center was finally com- 
pleted. It had enclosed stairways at both the east and west ends 
which led up to the galleries, with the front door facing the 
south. There was neither steeple or belfry and the whole struc- 
ture had a barnlike appearance, which was characteristic of 
meeting houses at that time. The galleries were on three sides 
and so wide that there was only a square opening over the room 
below. The occupants of the rear seats of the gallery were 
obliged to stand to enable them to see the minister. Besides the 
townspeople who attended this church several of the families 
from East Chelmsford, as Lowell was then called, crossed the 
river at Bradley's ferry and were members of the congregation. 

About 1812 the so-called Unitarian controversy among the 
Congregational churches commenced and continued for many 
years. It was mostly confined to Massachusetts. It has been 
stated that eighty-one churches in the state, with church prop- 
erty estimated at $600,000, by a decision of the Courts, changed 
denominational ownership and joined the Unitarians. About 
1830 the trouble commenced in the First Church of Dracut and 
reached a climax in 1833. At this time an amendment to the 
constitution of the State permitted church property, which until 
this time had been owned by the town, to be held by the societies. 
No parish records of this time are in existence, but apparently 
the members of the church were outvoted and felt compelled to 
mthdraw from the parish. 

At a meeting of the church held October 23, 1833 it was voted 
"to choose a committee to procure a Gospel minister for the 


church and such others as may meet with them when they are 
deprived of such an one in the Meeting House, as they shall 
consider it their duty to hear." February 6, 1834, Voted "to 
Hold the meetings for public Worship at Mr. Hanchetts Hall." 
This was in a building at Hovey Square, now the Blanchard hos- 
pital. February 18, 1834, the following resolutions were 
adopted. "Resolved, that in the opinion of the church all our 
hope of enjoying the ministrations of the pure gospel in connec- 
tion with the first Parish were entirely cut off by the proceedings 
of the Parish at their meeting on the 6th inst, and that we are 
therefore obliged to leave the meeting house and make some new 
provision for the support of public worship that the faith of 
the gospel may continue with us." Mr. A. C. Varnum writes in 
relation to this subject: "In 1812 the 'Unitarian Controversy' 
as it was called, broke out among the Congregational churches 
and continued for many years. It did not extend beyond New 
England and was almost entirely confined to Massachusetts. 
Eighty-one churches with the church property in Massachusetts, 
during this controversy, by a decision of our courts, changed 
denominational ownership and went to those calling themselves 
Unitarians. The estimated value of this property was over 
$600,000. Among these churches was the old 'Mayflower' of 
Pljrmouth and every Congregational Church in Boston except- 
ing the Old South. The Centre church in Dracut also added 
one to the number. The church organization, however, inde- 
pendently of the parish or society, retained its records and 
retired to Hanchett Hall nearby, where worship was continued 
until the 'Hillside Meeting House' near the Navy Yard was 
built, which was dedicated February 25, 1835, and where this 
church has worshipped until the present time. It still claims 
to be the First Church of Dracut and is called the First Evan- 
gelical Congregational Church." 

It was further resolved to invite the Presbyterian church, 
at Pawtucket bridge, to unite with them and form a new society, 
but if they declined, that a new one be formed by themselves. 
As the Presbyterian church declined to accept the invitation, 
a new Parish was formed and the church retained the original 
name and organization. In 1834 a company was formed, for the 
purpose of building a new meeting house, which was incorporated 


under the name of "The Proprietors of the Evangelical Congre- 
gational Meeting House." One hundred and twenty shares of 
stock were issued at twenty five dollars per share, to pay for the 
erection of the new building, at what is commonly known as the 
Hillside on Pleasant street below Hovey Square. At that time 
this was about in the center of the parish as there were no 
churches in Centralville. The trustees were authorized in case 
this amount was insufficient to issvie additional shares to make 
up the deficiency. It was built in more modern style than the 
preceding ones and was, when finished, formally dedicated. At 
a church meeting held February 26, 1835, it was voted "That 
we accept of the privilege offered by the Proprietors of the 
Evangelical Congregational Meeting House and therefore in 
future will hold our worship and ordinances in said house agree- 
able to a vote of said Proprietors. ' ' 

The pews were sold at prices ranging from $36 to $92. 
There was no income from investments in the stock, but occa- 
sional assessments and as the stockholders, in some eases, moved 
out of town these shares were gradually purchased by remaining 
members for a low price who had been greatly interested in the 
stockholders and the welfare of the Society. Thus the owner- 
ship was retained by these members and the rights of the church 
organization assured. 

In 1869 the church received a legacy from the estate of 
Dea. Samuel Worcester which enabled the members of this 
organization to purchase from the stockholders enough shares 
to give the church a controlling interest and thus secure perma- 
nent occupancy. 

The following is the fourth article in the constitution of the 
stockholders: "The house to be built shall be forever set apart 
for the preaching of the doctrines of the evangelical or orthordox 
faith and to the use of the present Evangelical Congregational 
Society in Dracut and the First Church in Dracut or the First 
and Presbyterian Churches if united as the case may be." It 
was necessary to form a society to manage the financial affairs of 
the church and a petition was presented to Elisha Glidden, a 
justice of the peace, to call a meeting. The warrant issued by 
him is dated February 26, 1834. 


At this meeting a clerk, treasurer, collector and board of 
assessors were chosen, thus forming a legal body subject to the 
laws of the Commonwealth, by which the transactions of the 
society are governed. The annual meeting is held on the second 
Tuesday of March and the amount of money to defray the ex- 
penses for the year appropriated, ofScers are elected and new 
members admitted which can be done only under this warrant 
which calls the meeting which, however, may be legally ad- 
journed to a fixed date. All business to be transacted which has 
a legal status, must be called by the assessors or clerk and the 
warrant posted seven days at least before the time of holding the 
meeting. Keal estate may be owned by the society by virtue of 
its existence as a corporate body, while the church, having no 
legal existence, can hold it by right only under a special law 
passed in recent years. The society is responsible for the pay- 
ment of the bills and has no part in the affairs of the church 
except the right to engage or dismiss the minister, which can 
be done only with the concurrence of the church, while the 
church as a body is not concerned in the financial affairs of the 
society. Briefly stated, the stockholders own the building, sub- 
ject to the rights of the original owners of the land, the pews are 
owned by individuals, the society conducts the legal and financial 
affairs and the church attends to the spiritual duties. Aside 
from the supplies for the communion and insurance on the build- 
ing and taxes on land bequeathed to the Church the church has 
no regular expenses, all bills being paid by the society. Few 
changes were made in the building for several years after its 
erection in 1834. 

After 1860 alterations began to be made for the purpose of 
convenience of those who attend. The vestry was enlarged by 
occupying the space under the whole building, the pew doors 
were removed and arms substituted, a new, modern pulpit re- 
placed the old high one, the location of the stairway leading to 
the vestry was changed, gas lights were installed and, in 1906, 
the town water introduced. In 1866 the gallery was enlarged in 
width to provide room for a new pipe organ which was pur- 
chased and which replaced the melodeon. the musical instrument 
of former years. In 1902 extensive alterations were made. An 
addition was built on the west side to which the organ was 


removed, seats provided for the singers and the pulpit removed 
and placed near and in front of the singers' seats. The old 
pews were removed and new ones purchased and so located that 
they faced the west side instead of the south, as formerly. A 
new floor was laid and a steel ceiling replaced the old one which 
was of plaster and papered, the alterations were made at an 
expense of $2000. 

On August 25, 1913, the First Church celebrated its 200th 
anniversary in a quiet manner. This was in place of the Sunday 
morning service and the historical address was delivered by 
Silas R. Coburn, who reviewed the history of the church from the 
time of its organization. Remarks by Rev. John Welch of Illi- 
nois, a former resident of the village, who was visiting in the 
vicinity, completed the exercises. In the absence of early records 
the exact date of organization could not be ascertained, but 
there was evidence that two centuries were completed since the 
church was formed. At the time of the building of the house at 
the Center, Rev. Solomon Aiken was pastor and his private 
church record is the earliest that we have, as earlier proceedings 
were entered briefly on the town books as regular business of the 
town. In the earlier years of the existence of the church the min- 
isters were installed or given a settlement, but in more recent 
years the sentiment has not been in favor of this arrangement, 
but preferred to engage them for a specified term. A list of 
settled pastors is given : 

Thomas Parker 1720 to 1764 

Nathan Davis 1765 to 1780 

Solomon Aiken 1788 to 1813 

William Gould 1815 to 1817 

Joseph Merrill 1820 to 1833 

iras Goodman 1836 to 1838 

George W. Adams 1844 to 1846 

Lyman S. Watts 1866 to 1867 

Ernest L. Baker 1894 to 1897 

May 26, 1920, a neat bronze tablet, placed in the auditorium, 
was dedicated in honor of the twenty -two young men who served 
in the war of 1917-18. Their names are placed on the tablet. 


Unveiling of the Tablet 

When the call came for soldiers to serve in the late World 
War, the response from the Hillside Church was hearty. In 
honor of the twenty-two young men who enlisted, the church 
people purchased and unveiled a neat bronze tablet. It repre- 
sents, at the top, the emblems of our country, viz., the eagle and 
American flags. At the unveiling ceremonies the young men 
were present in uniform and the address was given by Hon. 
Arthur W. Colburn. George H. Stevens was chairman. Wil- 
liam Ryder, who had served as a soldier in the English army 
in India, at the proper moment unveiled the tablet. 

The iiLscription is as follows: — 

1917 HONOR ROLL 1919 

First Congregational Church of Dracut 

A tribute to our patriots who served in the World War. 

Forest H. Calhoun George Mozley 

Arthur H. Cashin Herbert 0. Nichols 

Harold A. Giffin Albert L. Pelton 

Ralph S. Giffin Wilson H. Pollard 

Arthur E. Gunther Caleb F. Rogers 

Edmund H. Gunther George J. Sanborn 

Herman L. Hodge Benno W. Shafter 

Thomas D. Kearns Raymond R. Stevens 

William J. Kearns Franklin W. Thomas 

Harvey F. Kierstead Frank R. Walters 
. Walton 

Died in the sevice of our Country 
George Garner 

"These gallant men of our armed forces have fought for 
the ideals which they know to be the ideals of their country." 
— Woodrow Wilson, 1918 


Pawtucket Church 

When the protest of the people of West Dracut was un- 
heeded, opposing the location of the new building at the center, 
the opponents of the arrangement withdrew and became, on 
June 27, 1797, a body which was incorporated under the name of 
The West Congregational Society in Dracut. On January 6th of 
the preceding year, James Varnum had given a deed of one half 
of an acre of land to Parker Varnum, Jonathan Varnum, and 
Peter Coburn, Jr., members of the committee appointed by the 
proprietors of the society above named, the price paid being the 
nominal sum of fifty cents. The new bridge had been built and 
the Mammoth road opened to travel which caused the locality to 
be well chosen, as there was a prospect of settlement by families 
at this place, while it was convenient for the people of East 
Chelmsford, now Lowell, to attend church. "Besides these prac- 
tical and positive conveniences, there might have been a bit of 
romance considered, for this was the 'Ancient and Capitol Seat 
of the Pawtucket tribe of Indians and the spot where John Eliot 
first preached the gospel to them in 1647 and for many years 
afterward, as they gathered to obtain their supply of fish at the 
falls.' " (Hist. Paw. Church.) 

The majority of those who had signed the protest of 1793 
against the location of the meeting house at the center, became 
members of the new church. The unfinished building on the 
Taylor lot at Hovey square was demolished and removed to fur- 
nish material for the new building. It was built in the old style, 
as all meeting houses in that time were similar in the mode of 
architecture, and in 1820 a belfry was added and a bell purchased. 
In 1859 this bell was removed and a larger one was installed in 
its place. Although the members of the Society were responsible 
for the payment of the bills they were not exempt from taxation 
as the expenses for the church were paid by the town in common 
with other bills. The extra burden was too heavy for the new 
Society, and, in 1819, it joined the Presbyterian order. By this 
change their numbers were increased by the attendance of sev- 
eral families who lived across the river in East Chelmsford and 
who assisted in the Church financially as well as making it a 
strong church spiritually. The doctrinal belief of the two sects 


is the same, but the difference consists in the government of the 
church, the Congregational being independent, while the 
Presbyterian is a member of a body called the Presbytery. In 
1837 this church returned to the original form of belief which it 
has since retamed. 

When, in 1819, the church became a member of the Presby- 
terian body, the Legislature by an act passed February 1, 1820, 
granted permission to a number of families of Bast Chelmsford, 
now Lowell, to be connected, for parochial purposes only, with 
the Pawtucket Society. Thus the Society received an additional 
membership and their taxes for the support of the church would 
be collected for the benefit of this Society. The families who 
were thus permitted to join were : 

Phineas Whiting Ephraim Osgood 

Nathaniel Wright Simeon Parker 

John Ford Lewis Butterfield 

Silas Hoar Zebulun Parker 

Artemas Holden Jeduthan Parker 

James Bowers Osgood Worcester 

Jonathan Bowers Joel Dix 

Samuel F. Wood Varnum Spalding 

Nathan Tjder Robert Spalding 

Josiah Fletcher Mieajah Bowers 

Joseph C. Hall Bradley Varnum 

Otis Tjder John Goulding 

Nathan Tyler Jr. Samuel Hunt 

Nathan Hunting Moses Chever Jr. 

Nathan P. Ames Amos Proctor. 

Joseph Dane 
Although the churches were under the control of the town, 
there seems to have been some of the citizens of the town who 
did not approve of the Presbyterian form of worship, and who 
were unwilling to be taxed to support a church not strictly hold- 
ing the Congregational belief. In support of this statement 
there is in existence a petition for exemption from taxation 
which is as follows: 

"Major B. F. Varnum Sir There is as we think a petition 
presenting or presented to the General Court for Leave to tax 


the Pews in the Presbyterian Meeting House in Dracut we the 
undersigned wish you to attend and request an order of notice 
that we may be present and show cause why the prayers of the 
petitions may not be granted. 
Dracutt May 28 1825 

Phineas Coburn Reuben Cobuen 

Joshua Makshall Josiah Fox Jr. 

William Webster Wm. F. Osgood" 

Solomon Osgood 
There is no further record to show the result of the presen- 
tation of this petition. 

In 1844 extensive alterations were made in the interior, the 
square box pews were removed and more modem ones replaced 
them. The small, old-fashioned windows were enlarged and the 
pulpit rebuilt. A new parsonage was built in 1867, and later, 
about 1888, the old building was taken down and a new one 
built at a cost of about $20,000. In 1874 when the City of Lowell 
annexed this part of Dracut, the church ceased to be a Dracut 
church and its later history belongs to Lowell. 

The Centre Orthodox Congregational Church 

After occupying the old church building at the Center for 
several years, the Unitarians withdrew and the building became 
vacant. The families in this neighborhood and those residing at 
East Dracut decided to establish a new church and society. To 
accomplish this, thirty-six members of the First Church with- 
drew and organized a church under the above name. A council 
was called and the date of the organization is July 14, 1847. 
The following names of those who withdrew are : 

Dea. Joshua Colburn Phineas Richardson 

Dea. Dana Richardson Augustus Hovey 

Joseph Hovey Sr. Charles A. Thissell 

Samuel G. Hallowell Mrs. Lydia Varnum 

David Richardson 
Adna Colburn 
Joshua Colburn Jr. 
George Hovey 
Obadiah R. Varnum 

Lydia Hildreth 
Fanny R. Fox 
Abigail Eastman 
Myra Stevens 
Hannah I. Peabody 


Mrs. Elizabeth Cheever Mrs. Hannah Colburn 

" Clarissa S. Hovey " Sarah Parker 

" Rebecca Hovey " Clarissa Colburn 

" Nancy W. Hovey " Mary Hovey 

" Prudence Richardson " Elizabeth D. Wood 

" Emily S. Richardson Miss Prudence V. Fox 

" Fanny V. Richardson " Mary A. Pox 

" Almira R. Coburn " Nancy Stevens 

" Lydia Colburn " Mary Fox 

In the years which have elapsed since the organization of the 
new church there have been but three settled ministers. Their 
names are : 

Rev. George W. Adams 1847 — 
" George Pierce 1863—1867 

'■ F. J. Kelley 1898—1904 

Soon after the organization extensive changes were made in 
the building. The outside enclosed stairways were removed, 
also the old pulpit which was replaced by a more modern one. 
The gallerj' seats were remoA^ed, but the floors were retained and 
with a new floor in the center a new audience room was pro- 
vided in the second story with the pulpit at the east end and 
raised seats for singers with new pipe organ at the west end. 
The whole of the basement was used as a vestry, having settees 
in the center with the old box pews against the walls which re- 
mained until about 1860. The door at the west end was for the 
public entrance and two flights of stairs led up to the audience 
room, while the south door was used as a vestry door. Large, 
modern windows replaced the small, old ones. The outside of 
the building retained its bare, barnlike appearance and with its 
coat of yellow paint it was for many years a well-known land- 
mark and known as ' ' The Old Yellow Meeting House, ' ' by which 
name it was known for many years even after being painted 

In 1869, a cupola was placed on the building and in 1884 
an eight hundred pound bell was purchased. In 1897 the build- 
ing was reconstructed and additions made to meet modern re- 
quirements, at a cost of about $15,000. Besides the audience 


room which is located in the old building, there were added a 
chapel, ladies' parlor, kitchen and dining room. New furnaces 
were purchased and gas and water introduced. The grounds 
were enclosed which before had been common. Through the 
liberality of one of the members of the church a large pipe organ 
was installed. The dedication of the new building was held on 
July 8, 1897. On this occasion a beautiful baptismal font of 
Italian marble was presented to the church by one of the citi- 
zens of Centralville. The parish, incorporated under the laws 
of the Commonwealth, is called The First Parish in Dracut. 

Baptist Churches 

In 1774 an act was passed by the General Court exempting 
Quakers and Baptists from taxation for the support of other 
denominations. They were simply required to file a certificate 
from the proper officers of their own denomination to the effect 
that thej^ were members thereof and paid taxes accordingly. The 
town appears to have accepted this act in 1781. It was voted 
"to omit taxing to pay the ministers all who were assessed to 
Mr. Chapmans tax, and those proposed Baptists and all others 
who bring certificates from Rev. Mr. Chapman." March 7, 
1785, the town voted to "excuse from ministers taxes all those 
persons who declare themselves Baptists." They had no house 
in which to worship and at a town meeting held April 7, 1817, 
requested permi.s.sion to occupy the First Parish house a part of 
the time. For some reason not recorded the town refused per- 
mission. It is possible that thej- met in some private house or in 
some of the halls connected with the taverns as the Society was 
in existence a year later. 

On May 17 of the next year, an article was inserted in the 
town warrant stating more definitely the time which thej' de- 
sired for occupancy. This was six Sabbaths from date to the 
first of the next March. This was also dismissed and no further 
applications were recorded. 

Denominational lines were more strictly drawn than at 
present, which may account for the refusal of the request. 
There is reason to infer that they located at East Dracut and two 
halls at least were in existence in which they could meet. The 


two entries on the town books and a subscription paper which 
has been preserved furnish all the records of the three years or 
more of the Society's existence. This is the copy of the paper. 
"We, the members of the Baptist Society in Dracutt, severally 
agree to pay the sums set against our respective names for the 
support of the Gospel in the said Society for the year of our 
Lord 1820. ' ' The names of the subscribers are those of families 
residing in the east part of the town although a few men of 
means in other localities assisted them financially. As they had 
no source of income except voluntary offerings the existence of 
the Society was brief. 

East Deacut Methodist Church. 

After an interval in which there were no services held at 
East Dracut, the increasing population demanded a house of 
worship. The management of the affairs of the Churches had 
pa.ssed from the control of the town, and incorporated societies 
having the control were now independent. 

By a deed dated October 10, 1849, a parcel of land was 
purchased by The First Methodist Society of Draeut of Hepsibah, 
wife of Oliver Richardson, and her sisters, Hannah and Eliza- 
beth Bailey. The price paid was twenty-five dollars. The 
people were ready to assist in the establishing and maintaining 
church services, and funds were subscribed and labor given so 
that a neat building was erected and was opened for worship 
May 16, 1850. The first legal meeting was called by Colburn 
Blood in his capacity as Justice of the Peace and the first mem- 
bers enrolled in the Parish were : 

Moses Bailey Asahel Clough 

Perez Hill, elected clerk John W. Flint 

Uriel Warner Russel Richardson 

Thaddeus Richardson Benjamin Stevens 
Thomas Lewis 

The members agreed to associate themselves together for 
the purpose of supporting and maintaining religious worship 
and to form themselves into a religious society to be called the 

(See Pnse 379) 


First Methodist Society of Dracut. A constitution was adopted, 
giving the name and object of the Society in the first two articles. 
The designation of the ofScers, the time of meeting, the qualifi- 
cation of members, their rights and privileges, are all defined. 
For several years the church was well supported, but later 
those most interested in the work passed away, farms changed 
owners and families settled in the vicinity who had no interest 
in the church. Some families, realizing the need of religious 
instruction for their children, have organized and supported, 
for a time, a Sunday School and at difi'erent times church 
services have been held but, continuous services have been 
difficult to maintain. 

The Collinsville Union Mission. 

This Mission was formed November 15, 1897, and was 
established for the benefit of the families of the village, which 
had increased in size and population by the extensive changes 
made by Mr. Michael Collins. Land was purchased and a neat 
building erected. During the first years it was under the super- 
vision of the Lowell churches and, while nominally Methodist, 
all sects are made welcome. There has been no resident pastor, 
but ministers from neighboring churches and Lowell have been 
interested to keep the pulpit supplied. It is now self-supporting 
and has no connection with other religious bodies. The prospects 
at the present time are favorable for the growth and extension 
of this church. 

St. Mary's Catholic Church. 

The need of a Catholic church at Collinsville was also 
greatly felt by the members of those families who were believers 
in the Catholic faith. For the benefit of such who desired to 
worship in this manner a neat building was erected by Mr. 
Michael Collins at his own expense, which while small, was 
large enough to accommodate the worshippers. It was in 
charge, for a few j-ears, of the church located on Sixth street in 
Lowell and priests from that church officiated at the services, 
but later the building was enlarged, a residence for the priest 
erected and a resident-pastor was installed. 


THE early settlers of Dracut fouud an abundant water 
power in the Merrimack river and its tributary streams in 
the town. The first kind of a mill to be built would be a gristmill 
for converting their grain into meal, malt and flour. Later, as 
they found time and means to build better houses in place of the 
buildings constructed of logs, saw mills were required and sur- 
plus lumber not needed for their own use was rafted down the 
river and sold. The first gristmill in the new town was probably 
the one which was built by John Varnum at the foot of Paw- 
tucket falls near where the Textile school now stands. Here 
was an abundance of power and as a dam which would reach 
across the river would be expensive and unnecessary the water 
was conveyed to the wheel by the agency of a wing dam. This 
dam was built with the end extending a short distance into the 
river, and a few rods above the end which rested on the shore 
which formed a triangular space in which water enough would 
collect to furnish power to operate a saw or gristmill. This was 
built early in the time of the settlement of the town, as mention 
is made of a dam at this place in a record of the laying out of 
a road in 1710. A map of Dracut, dated 1791, locates a saw mill 
a short distance above Pawtucket bridge, but by whom owned 
or operated is unknown. 

In 1822, Thomas Hurd, who owned a woolen mill on the Con- 
cord river purchased laud of Parker and Jonas Varnum and 
Daniel Coburn extending from Pawtucket bridge to the foot of 
the falls with mill privileges. The deed conveys the "right to 
use so much of the water of the river at the mill site owned by 
me in common with the said Hurd as shall, with what the said 
Hurd now owns be sufficient at all seasons of the year to carry 
the wheels and machinery of a factory of the size and dimension 
of the brick factory on Concord river. ' ' Hurd erected a mill on 
his purchase about 1825, but soon afterward his mill on Concord 
river was burned and the mill at the foot of Pawtucket falls was 
removed and rebuilt on the site of the one which had been burned. 


A part of the mill foundations remain easterly of the Textile 
school and at low water a part of the sill of the gateway may 
be seen. The abundant water power at the Nav.y Yard village 
was early utilized, but at what date is unknown. 

The land on the west side of Beaver brook was owned by the 
Varnums. On February 23, 1739, James Varnum sold to Ephraim 
Hildreth one half of the stream and westerly side of the 
brook at falls "by mill called Hildreth and Goodhues mill, and 
all privileges that were reserved by said Varnum for use, benefit, 
and privilege of mill." Ephraim Hildreth, as before stated, 
purchased 1,300 acres of land on the east side of the brook which 
included the land now occupied by the Navj- Yard village. This 
was in 1709, and the next year he sold to Ebenezer Goodhue, 16 
acres adjoining the brook and extending from the falls in the 
brook to Merrimack river. Sometime between date of Hildreth 's 
purchase and 1739 it is evident, from the wording of the 
deed from Varnum to Hildreth, that Hildreth and Goodhue had 
built a mill on the east side of the brook. The falls at that time 
were sufiicient to allow two dams to be in existence at the same 
time and the lower one a few rods below Pleasant street remained 
until recent years. The mill to which reference is made was the 
one below the present bridge according to a deed now on record. 
December 16, 1756, Ephraim, William and Elijah Hildreth sold 
to James Martin "1-6 of the west half of mill dam adjoining to 
corn and saw miUs owned by E. Hildreth and Z. Goodhue and 
others, being the lowermost mill dam on said brook, 1-3 of the 
land on which the dam stands 1-6 of west half of stream, also 
flowage and liberty to cut a sluice way, also 1-3 of the water 
of westerly part of the stream." This would locate Martin's 
purchase at the foot of the sand hill on which afterward the 
carpet mill and other buildings stood, but which at date of 
writing have nearly disappeared. 

Josiah Richardson became a part owner of the mill on the 
east side, as in 1759 Martin purchased of him one-eighth part of 
the mill on the east side of the brook, but in 1762 sold it to 
Ezekiel Hale of Newbury, but retained the west half until 1769, 
when he sold all his rights in the mill property on the brook, also 
a dwelling house and blacksmith shop, also "easterly half of 
stream opposite with 1-3 part of new saw mill lately built, 1-3 


of mill yard and 1-3 part of corn mill now standing on the east- 
erly side of said brook. ' ' 

Hale had possession of this property about twenty years and 
established a mill for fulling and dressing cloth which was 
woven by the inhabitants of the town in their own homes. His 
house stood on the north side of Pleasant street and was re- 
moved to allow the electric road to be built. It is now a few rods 
north of its former location; it has a frontage on Lakeview 
avenue and is numbered 1092. He died August 28, 1789, and is 
buried in the Hildreth cemetery. Capt. Hale was prominent in 
the town and was a member, at the period of the Revolution, of 
the Committee of Correspondence and Safety. The mills and 
mill property to which reference will now be made is evidently 
the present location of the mills. Exact information is difficult 
to procure on account of absence of records, but the careful 
study of this transaction will show that so far the references 
relate to the lower dam, while the record of the mills will show 
the location of the Hale property near the present site of the 
mills. He sold his property to his son, Moses, a few months 
before his death. It consisted of " ^^ of the corn mill on the west 
side of the brook" with the proviso that when there was a 
scarcity of water the fulling mill should be in operation 24 
hoi;rs in a week. Also his dwelling house and barn on the east 
side of the brook, and all his rights in "the old corn mill that I 
was in partnership with, with Zechariah Goodhue. ' ' 

From this transfer it seems that there were two corn mills 
and we locate one at the old dam below the present bridge and 
one at the dam above the bridge. Moses sold the property to his 
brother, Ezekiel, Jr., who, in turn, sold it to Joshua Bradley, 
November 1, 1792. It included the corn mill and fulling mill 
on the west side of the brook, also the dwelling house on the east 
side, "with 11-24 of the saw mill near the dwelling house with 
privilege of setting up a corn mill on the east with one half of 
the irons etc belonging." As no mention is made in the deed 
of the old corn mill, it had evidently disappeared. The deed also 
conveyed 21 acres on the south side of Pleasant street reserving 
to the owners of a saw mill at the lower dam a right-of-way 
through the land. No record of the time of the building of the 
lower dam can be found, but it was in use fifty years after the 


transactions were recorded. It was located, as already stated, 
at the foot of the falls opposite the sand hill on which the collec- 
tion of buildings known as '"New England" was situated. All 
traces of the dam are gone, but an old sluice way has remained 
on the west side which shows where it stood. It was removed 
to give an opportunity for the better escape of the water from 
the wheels of the present mill. The following year, Bradley 
purchased 21-48 of the upper saw mill of Zechariah Goodhue 
with land "where the grist mill stood lately owned by Capt. 
Hale, deceased, and myself." The mills became known as Brad- 
ley's mills. In 1799, Ezekiel Hale, Jr., sold his remaining rights 
in the property to Isaac Bradley including "the scythe mill, 
workshop and dam." This was evidently the lower dam. The 
property passed through several ownerships and in 1814 was 
purchased by Jabez, Woodward, Artemas and Sewall Stanley of 
Bristol. The last two named purchased the rights of the others 
and erected a mill building on the propertj*. They commenced 
the manufacture of cotton goods, but soon changed the ma- 
chinery and later produced woolen goods. 

About 1828, they became financially embarrassed and the 
property was seized by creditors who gave a five years' lease to 
Charles Stott, Joseph Garnett, Robert Whittaker and a Mr. 
Fitten, and they continued the manufacture of woolens. At 
the expiration of the lease, the business was sold to John and 
Thomas Nesmith, who commenced the manufacture of flannels, 
but soon removed their business to Lowell. In 1838, the property 
was sold to Darius Young, but in 1839 it was purchased by the 
Chelmsford Co. It consisted of land with flannel factory and 
gristmill and the price paid was $12,000. 

From this time until 1853, no records are found but exten- 
sive changes must have been made, for in the last named year the 
Elliott Mills Co. purchased the property for $75,000. The deeds 
were signed by Harlan Pillsbury, Jonathan Tyler, James Water 
house, Joseph F. Trott and Isaac Farrington. This company re 
tained possession one year and sold to Thomas Barrows of Ded 
ham and William Hilton of Boston. John Nesmith of Lowel 
became a partner and a company was formed under the name o 
the Merrimack Woolen Co. In 1858, this company was reor 
ganized with a capital of $72,000 and the name changed to 


Merrimack Woolen Mills. In 1860, the property was owned by 
Thomas Nesmith, Thomas Barrows and Walter Hastings. The 
manufacture of the cloth was in charge of Joseph and Alfred 
Chase, who received a percentage of the manufactured goods 
which were sold by a commission house. The buildings were 
old and not fitted for the increasing business and a more modern 
building was required to produce better results. As it was 
difficult to suspend the manufacturing on account of the large 
orders received, the Pearson Mills at Collinsville were purchased, 
the cotton machinery removed and woolen machinery substituted. 
In 1863, the Chases withdrew and Mr. Barrows' son, Edward, 
became agent. In 1862, a brick mill was erected on the site of 
the former wooden one, and equipped with new and modern 
machinery, and arrangements were made for more extensive 
business. The mill had been in operation but a short time when, 
in October, 1864, a fire broke out and totally destroj'ed the build- 
ings, and a two-story house which stood on the opposite side of 
the highway. 

Large orders had been received and the cloth was in de- 
mand, so the company arranged to operate the mill at Collins- 
ville which they had recently purchased. The operatives were 
transferred to the new mill, the machinery was run night and 
day and the work of clearing away the ruins of the mill com- 
menced without delay. As soon as possible a new four-story 
brick mill was erected with a two-story addition in the rear, to 
which recently another story has been added, new machinery 
was purchased and business resumed. 

Early in 1864, the company had been incorporated as the 
Merrimack Mills of Dracut, capitalized at $500,000. For several 
years the new up-to-date equipment of the mills with the favor- 
able condition of the times were productive of great success. But 
in 1873, as the result of dissensions among the stockholders, the 
plant was closed. In 1874, the property consisting of both mills 
was sold at auction to L. J. Stiastny of New York for $130,000. 
Several years of inaction followed. Property in the village de- 
creased in value. Families living in tenement hoiises obtained 
employment in other places and removed from town. Others 
who had purchased homes sold at a sacrifice or found employ- 
ment in the Lowell mills and remained. 


In 1876, the mills at the Navy Yard village were taken on 
a lease by Solomon Bachman who, on June 19, 1880, purchased 
them for $120,000. In 1896, a company was incorporated as the 
Merrimack Woolen Mills Co. with a capital of $250,000, Mr. 
Bachman and his family retaining a majority of the stock. In 
December, 1901, it became necessary, in settlement of the estate 
of Mr. Bachman, whose death occurred in 1898, to sell the prop- 
erty at auction. In February, 1902, the mills were again put in 
operation with new ownership as the Merrimack Woolen Co. 
with August Fels, treasurer and manager. 

Later in the year the property again changed ownership and 
while retaining its former name the greater part of the stock 
was purchased by Mr. E. G. Morrison and Mr. Arthur G. Meyer. 
At the present writing (1919) about 400 operatives are employed 
and the finished product consists of overcoating, cassimeres and 
cloaking, a line of goods for which the mill is especially equipped 
and for the production of which the managers provide the 
latest machinery. Under the present management important 
changes have been made. New buildings have been added, a tall 
chimney has been erected, in place of the metal smoke stack, 
which proved insufficient for the work and new wire fences take 
the place of the old, unsightly wooden ones. 

Keference has been made to a dam on Beaver brook, south 
of Pleasant Street, where a saw mill had been in operation on 
the east side of the brook, in 1792. Before 1824, Merritt Wilder 
had acquired mill privileges on the west side of the brook and 
erected a mill building. No records exist to show the nature of 
the goods which he manufactured, but in certain deeds he is 
called a clothier. In 1827, he purchased land on the east side of 
the brook of Benjamin Bradley with the right to erect a mill. 
This right he sold in the same year to Theodore Hamblett. The 
deed conveys the right "to erect a mill or other building at the 
easterly end of the dam extending from said Wilders mill or 
works on the M^esterly side of said brook to the easterly side 
thereof, with right to use water for mills when not wanted by 
Wilder for his mills. ' ' Wilder mortgaged his property to Joseph 
Butterfield Varnum, who came into possession of it in 1828. Be- 
sides the mills there were, on the west side of the brook, about 3% 
acres of land reaching from Pleasant street to the dam, also the 


Bradley land on the east side which had been leased to 

In 1840, Varnum sold the property on the west side of the 
brook to Perez 0. and John H. Richmond who manufactured 
paper until about 1855. Later the mill building was purchased 
by the Woolen Mill Co. and used as a storehouse, but was burned 
about 1870. On the east side of the brook, Hamblett erected a 
saw mill and established a wheelwright business, besides build- 
ing some houses on what is now Brookside street. He operated 
the mill several years, but the owners of the woolen mill, needing 
more room in the stream for the discharge of water from the mill 
wheels, purchased the property, removed the dam, filled the 
race ways, and no traces of mills or dam remain. 

In 1825, J. B. Varnum erected a building for mill purposes 
on his land near the Wilder property, but a few rods away from 
the brook on the side of the hill, and opened a road from his 
residence to the mill at the bridge. He moved a house from 
Lowell and when the mill business was discontinued and the 
building arranged for tenements the group of houses was called 
New England. The building was two stories high on the back 
with a basement on the roadway. Hand looms were installed and 
carpets woven, pieces of which are in existence. Bj^ whom the 
business was conducted is uncertain. A few receipts and bills 
furnish all the information which we have been able to gather. 
One is for rent of machinery and buildings to Thomas Baker 
in 1847. In 1849, Baker purchased of J. B. Varnum five Briissels 
carpet looms with bobbins, one set of card plates with appur- 
tenances and eleven sets of cards which Varniun had bought in 
1847 of James Sener. The names of these two men are all that 
can be found in connection with the mill. Sener was probably 
unsuccessful and the machinery was purchased by Varnum in 
payment of rent due him. Later the business of manufacturing 
was discontinued, the buildings used for tenement houses, and 
now have nearly all been demolished. 

Goodhue's Mills and Paper Mill. 

About one half mile above the dam of the Merrimack Woolen 
Co. is a water power at present unused. At what time it was first 


utilized is uncertain. May 18, 1767, Jonathan Varnum gave to 
Moses Goodhue a deed of the land on both sides of the brook 
extending on the north side from Lakeview avenue to the Old 
Meadow road. In 1807, Varnum sold three acres more to Good- 
hue on the south of the brook "adjoining said Goodhues land 
and mill pond." In 1793, Goodhue had purchased a narrow 
strip of land north of the brook extending from meadow bridge 
up the brook to "a dam that the said Goodhue had built." As 
there are uo traces of a mill here or records of one to be found, 
the dam was probably built to hold the water in storage. Good- 
hue built a dam where one is now located and operated a grist- 
mill and fulling mill which he had erected at the north end of the 

In 1817, he sold the property to his sons, Moses and Aaron, 
who continued the business which their father had established. 
Besides grinding the grain for the farmers, they carded the 
wool they had shorn from the sheep, and fulled and dressed the 
cloth which had been woven by the farmers ' wives and daughters. 
Moses, Sr., lived near and westerly of the mill and the cellar of 
his house could be seen until recently. In 1831, the Goodhue 
brothers sold to Samuel G. Griffin and Darius Young thus ter- 
minating the Goodhue ownership of sixty-four years. The mills 
on the property were discontinued, a more substantial dam built 
and a paper mill erected. 

The property was owned by several different parties on 
accoiint of financial difficulties, but was purchased in 1839 by 
Perez O. and John H. Richmond, who removed from the mill at 
the lower dam at the Na\y Yard village to this mill up the brook 
which furnished better opportunities for expansion. They eon- 
ducted the business until the death of Perez, when March 5, 1856, 
the property was sold to A. J. Richmond and Leonard and 
Joseph Church. It was again sold in 1860 to Geo. Ripley, who, 
in 1870, sold to the Lowell Wadding and Paper Co. The com- 
pany was succeeded by F. M. Spalding, later by George Lee, 
and in 1877 by John J. Donovan and Martin L. Bassett. 

About 1883, Percy Parker became owner of the real estate 
and the business was conducted by Bassett under the firm name 
of M. L. Bassett & Co. For a time the business was prosperous, 
and to meet the demand for their product the owners doubled the 


capacity of the mill by installing new machinery, increasing 
power by purchasing engines, etc. Unfortunately on February 
27, 1900, a great freshet occurred which washed away the flume 
and undermined much of the mill, but not discouraged, the 
owners rebuilt and again commenced the manufacture of paper. 
But the delay had been fatal to their interests for their trade 
had been absorbed by other mills and in consequence the busi- 
ness was suspended and the machinery sold. With the exception 
of a short time, when the buildings were occupied by a render- 
ing company, the mills were vacant. The buildings were al- 
lowed to decay and on the night of July 4, 1911, they were 
burned. Since that time no further use has been made of the 
mill privilege. 

Mills at Collinsville. 

Sometime previous to 1753, Joseph Hamblett of Pelham, 
N. H., came into possession of a farm and water power at the 
place now called Collinsville. This property was on the east 
side of the brook and in the year above mentioned he purchased 
of John Colburn land on the west side with rights on the stream 
"opposite Hambletts mills and dam." These were a gristmill 
and saw mill which he operated until March 13, 1773, when he 
sold the property on both sides of the brook to his son John. 
February 23, 1789, the latter exchanged properties with Isaac 
Parker, deeding to Parker 18 acres of land, a house and barn, 
a gristmill and seven-eighths of a saw mill on the east side of 
the brook. 

From Parker and Hamblett the properties passed in turn 
to Life, David, Cj-rus and Charles Wilson and was known as 
Wilson 's Mills. In 1842, the land west of the brook passed from 
the mortgagees of Charles Wilson to Josiah and George Ames 
and Josiah Ames, Jr. Josiah, Sr., with his brother, Daniel, had 
purchased, in 1814, from David Wilson the land and mill prop- 
erty east of the brook. April 26, 1843, the Ames', who had con- 
ducted a wheelwright business, in connection with that formerly 
established, sold the mill property to John H. Pearson of Boston, 
but retained the farm and farm buildings and continued to 
conduct the wheelwright business. 


About 1870, Josiah Ames, Jr., sold the farm to David McCoy 
of Pelham, who opened a slaughter house and established a 
retail business. Pearson increased the water power by adding to 
the height of the dam, paying to Nathaniel Varnum, Marcus L. 
Coburn, and others, certain sums for the right of flowage. Cot- 
ton machinery was installed and Peter Lawson of Lowell was 
emploj-ed to superintend the business. Large quantities of cot- 
ton goods were made, including duck, fancy table cloths, etc. In 
1844, a thread mill was established. An article in the Boston 
Globe is quoted: 

"Mrs. Martha Little Davidson spooled the first spool of 
cotton thread ever wound in America in the first thread mill ever 
erected on this side of the Atlantic. The first mill was erected by 
a Scotch capitalist from Boston. It was a crude affair run b}' 
water power and calculated for little else than the pi'ocess of 
spooling, the thread being imported in hanks almost a finished 
product from the mills in Scotland. While this industrial ad- 
venture was backed by Boston capital, it was John and Peter 
Lawson, two brothers, Scotch emigrants, who were the moving 
power of the enterprise and under whose management it was 
conducted. It was for work in this mill and to teach the trade to 
a force of employees that Martha Little, then a maiden of 26 
years, and her sister, Elizabeth, personally known to the Messrs. 
Lawson, were sent for to Paisley, Scotland, then the world's 
greatest center for thread manufacture. A three months' sail 
from Liverpool brought them to Draeut. Mrs. Davidson was 
the first to operate a spindle in the new factory, and in the month 
of June, 1844, through her hands the infant thread industry 
produced its first spool." 

An acquaintance of Martha Little, IMrs. Hannah Stott whose 
home was in Billerica, once told the writer that she, when a young 
girl, visited these mills and saw the process of winding the spools. 
March 7, 1863, the Pearson heirs of Boston sold to the Merrimack 
Woolen Mills Co. all this property, receiving for it the sum of 
$19,500. This was sold as before stated to L. J. Stiastny of 
New York. The machinery remained idle for several years, 
when March 31, 1880, it was purchased bj- Michael Collins. Ex- 
tensive changes were at once made. A large brick mill was built 


in 1886, on the south side of the highway, and a flume constructed 
to carry the water underneath the roadway to the wheels. Tene- 
ment houses were also built on the land and new streets laid out. 
Machinery for the production of fine goods was installed. Stores 
were opened and the Government established a post office. At 
this mill, Mr. Collins employed about 260 operatives who pro- 
duced annually 230,000 yards of cloth, principally beavers and 
cloakings. April 21, 1899, Mr. Collins sold the property to 
the American Woolen Co., which operated a number of mills in 
other places. The original wooden mill, three stories in height, 
was destroyed by fire and later replaced by a brick building used 
by the Company for the manufacture of shoddj'. The plant is 
known as The Beaver Brook Mills of the American Woolen Co. 

Saw and Gristmills and Other Industries 

Double brook is the stream that drains Long pond. It 
crosses Lakeview avenue above the Collinsville mission build- 
ing and, turning east, enters Beaver brook below the village. 
Near the old road leading from the village to Tyngsboro on the 
north side of the road near the Varnum buildings there is a fall 
sufficient to furnish power. On this fall the Varnums erected a 
gristmill which they operated until about 1860, when the busi- 
ness of grinding grain was discontinued. James GrifSn of Pel- 
ham, N. H., leased the power and placed a grater and press in 
the building and made cider for several years, until he removed 
to Pelham. The building is still standing but since Mr. Griffin 
vacated it, no use has been made of it except as a storehouse 
for the farm. 

In 1763, there is a reference in the town records to "Double 
Brook saw mill" and it is shown on an old map of 1791. No traces 
of a dam or raceway can be found and it is possible that the miU 
may have been located where the Varnum gristmill later stood. 
The volume of water in our brooks, which two centuries ago 
furnished in many localities sufficient power for the operation of 
mills, is now much diminished, if indeed the brooks are not quite 
dry. The ruins of old dams and existence of raceways give indi- 
cations of former industries. 

On Clay Pit brook, about a mile above Varnum avenue, a 
saw mill was owned and operated by Timothy Cobum. Traces 


of the dam and sluice way remain while a thick growth of wood 
indicates its discontinuance many years ago. As early as 1698, 
an old deed mentions a dam on Flag Meadow brook, and from 
later deeds, it can be located about 40 rods above Varnum 
avenue and directly east of the Lowell General Hospital. 
Whether built to furnish power or to flood the meadows for the 
benefit of the grass does not appear. March 29, 1726, Ephraim 
Hildreth and Josiah Colburn, who owned the Winthrop farm on 
the Merrimack river, formerly the Sj^monds grant, sold to Joseph 
Varnum "a parcel of land and a place to erect a dam and set 
up a miU at the lower end of the meadow called Winthrops 
meadow on the brook that runs out of the meadow and a con- 
venient cart road to the mouth of the brook called Winthrops 
brook by the west end of said Colburns house with liberty to 
raft in the mouth of the brook for a term of 30 years." Who 
operated the mill after the expiration of the 30 years' lease, is 
unknown. The Colburns owned the laud on both sides of the 
brook until after 1800, when it passed into possession of Samuel 
Richardson and his sons, Samuel, Jr., David and Dana, after 
which it was called Richardson's brook. 

The remains of the dam and sluice way with timbers and 
planking are to be seen a few rods below the Methuen road and 
west of the site of the Dana Richardson house. The remains of 
another dam may be seen on the same brook, a few rods above 
Kenwood sehoolhouse, but as there are no indications of a build- 
ing or raceway it was probably a storage dam, to retain the 
water in a basin from which supplies could be drawn to furnish 
power for the mill below. 

In 1818, in a mortgage deed given by James Mansur to Ben- 
jamin P. Varnum, mention is made of a mill pri\ilege and grist- 
mill. This stood on West brook, east of the East Dracut Meeting 
house and on the south side of the road leading to Methuen. 
Mansur operated this mill, but later the farm was purchased by 
James Richardson and the mill building was removed and used 
for a shed. 

As early as 1761, a saw mill stood on Bartlett's brook, 
which is the outlet of Peters' pond. It flows to the eastward 
over the Methuen line, where it is joined by West brook, before 
mentioned, and enters the Merrimack river. One Bartlett had 


a mill on the brook in Methuen, from which the brook received 
its name. The saw mill, above mentioned, was above the road 
leading to North pond and Salem, N. H. In 1761, Josiah Gage 
and James Wilson purchased 72 acres of land of Thomas Parker 
and erected a mill. This was owned by several shareholders. In 
1768, Gage and Wilson sold the land and one-fourth part of the 
mill to William D. Elliott who appears to have purchased the 
remaining shares and he, in 1782, sold land, dwelling house 
and saw mill to Mitchell Davis, who later sold to Richard Hall. 
The latter improved the property by building a storage dam 
above the mill and erecting a gristmill. A map of the town, 
dated 1798, locates this mill. Hall sold the property in 1805 to 
Thaddeus Richardson, who retained it twenty-five years and 
then transferred it to his son, Thaddeiis, Jr. The latter sold 
it, June 13, 1846, to Oliver Richardson "7 acres of land with 
saw and grist mills." Under later owners the gristmill ceased 
to be operated and no signs of its existence now remain. The 
saw mill in still later years was discontinued and the building 
removed. In the pit the tub wheel with bevel gearing remain. 


Tan House brook runs under Pleasant street, at the foot 
of the hill, west of the First Congregational church building. 
A few rods north of the street a tannery and leather dressing 
industry was established at an early date. On September 9, 
1755, Ephraim Hildreth conveyed to Nathaniel Mitchell one acre 
of land lying on both sides of the brook, and mention is made 
of Mitchell's tan vats as located on the land. He operated the 
tannery until 1766, when he removed to Bradford, selling the 
property to Benjamin French, including the farm, later known 
as the Swain place. French retained the property until 1797, 
when he sold the land on the brook to James Whiting "with 
a tan house and other buildings." Whiting appears to have 
conducted the business until about 1805, when through financial 
difficulties it passed into possession of Isaac Bradley. Dr. Amos 
Bradley owned it from 1807 until his death, and in 1822 it 
was sold to Bnos Blake, a tanner, and William Carlton, a cord- 
wainer, as a shoemaker was called in those days. They retained 
the property until 1835, when they .sold to Reuben Richardson. 


He sold in 1838 to Lev-i Richardson who had purchased in 1831 
a piece of land adjoining on the east and had erected a brick 
house which is still standing. He conducted the business until 
1842, when he sold the real estate to Reuben Coburn who was 
a farmer and who later lived on the place. The deed makes no 
mention of the tannery, which probably was discontinued. Some 
of the vats were between the house and the brook, and have 
been found recently when the ground was plowed. 

Northeast of the buildings formerlj^ owned by Henry 
Wheeler, a butcher, and on this same brook is a dam. It is 
mentioned in a deed as early as 1793, as "an old dam." It 
may have been built to store the water as wanted for the tan- 
nery below, as uo signs of a building or wasteway exist. The 
little brook between the house of the late Charles Coburn and 
the Dr. Hildreth place was the location of another tannery 
operated by Henry A. Hovey. A deed of the land from his 
father, Thomas Hovey, mentions the "Bash Vats." The word 
bash meaning to beat. Many years after the business had been 
abandoned and the vats covered over, they were discovered 
during excavations which were being made, and in them were 
found sides of leather of a superior quality caused by their 
long immersion in the tanning liquor. 

Smaller Industries 

One of the most noticeable changes since the earlier days 
of the town is the elimination of the smaller industries and 
the growth of companies to perform its work. The spinning 
wheel, flax wheel and hand loom, then to be found in nearly 
every house, are now seen only in a few museums. Where 
every village had its blacksmith shop, few remain, and the 
smith no longer shoes oxen or makes knives and farming tools. 
Butter and cheese are now made in factories. The cider mill, 
with the horse furnishing the power as he travelled in a circle 
while the boy sat scraping the pomace from the wooden nuts, 
has been replaced bj' the power mill with its increased capacity 
of production. The mill, with the upright saw, located at a 
convenient fall of water has been superceded by the portable 
mill with its circular saw and transported to the forest where 
the trees are felled. 


Before 1814, Benjamin Hovey had a hat factory. His shop 
was on Pleasant street, nearly opposite Clark street, but in 
1814, he sold the buildings to the Stanleys, who had bought 
the mills on Beaver brook. The shop was removed to the foot 
of the hill on Sladen street, where it now stands, being used as 
a tenement house. The Ezekiel Hale house, before mentioned 
as formerly standing on Pleasant street, where the car track 
now crosses the street, was once occupied, about 1818, by Thomas 
D. Doak and in which chairs were made. 

About 1828, the mill property at the Navy Yard village 
was leased to Charles Stott and others. Herrick Allen sub- 
leased a room in the basement, where he manufactured brushes, 
but sometime after 1835, he moved to New Hamp.shire. Theodore 
Hamblet had a wheelwright shop on Brookside street, near his 
saw mill, and Josiah Ames, Sr., conducted the same business 
at Collinsville. In "New England" a house near the carpet 
mill was occupied by William Varnum, a son of Bradley Var- 
num, who manufactured rings and other jewelry. At Hovey 
Square, jewelry was manufactured by a man named Guillaume 
Louis Rose Fortune Berson. He occupied the Nancy Hovey 
house, a part of which is now standing. It was nearly opposite 
the Hildreth house, later owned by Henry Richardson. As the 
births of his children are recorded as occurring between 1802 
and 1805, also his marriage, such record tixes the time of his 
residence in the town. Daniel Abbott manufactured bed posts, 
turning them on a lathe in a shop near his house. On Marsh 
hill, wood turning was done by Russell Fox at his home. At 
the larger farms eider mills were in operation and the owners 
ground the apples for their neighbors. Nearly all of these in- 
dustries have been superceded by large plants, conducted more 




^T2— T* ^^*^^^^""''-^si^^^^isi^^^^^^^^H 



OUR forefathers realized the value of education, and as 
early as 1647 a law was enacted requiring every town- 
ship in which were fifty householders to provide a sehoolhouse 
and employ a teacher, and all towns having 1.000 freeholders 
should provide a grammar school. It is uncertain how early 
schools were established in the town, but we have unoiBcial 
records which show that the Rev. James McGregor taught a 
school in town in the winter of 1718-19. The earliest town 
record relating to the subject is that on October 1, 1736, an 
agreement was signed as follows: 

"We, the subscribers in the town afore s'' agree with Mr. 
Phineas Stevens of Andover to keep a Reading and Wrighting 
scool In Dracutt three months Beginning on or about the 20th 
of this Instant October for which he Is to Receive twelve Pounds 
In BiUs of Creddit as witness our hands 

Phineas Stevens \ „ , ^ 
^ ^ I Selectmen 

Bdvtard Colburn I „ 

John Vaenum ( ^ ,,,. 
T T^ \ Dracutt 

John Bowers / 

In 1738, it was voted "to hire a school for reading and 
writing to be held two fifths of the time at the west end, two 
fifths at the east, and one fifth at the north end." May 18, 
1750, it was voted "to keep the school at one place in Dracut 
this present year." As there were no buildings especially for 
school use it was voted to keep the school at Ephraim Hildreth's 
house. March 5, 1787, it was voted to lay out the school money 
in "eight different squadrons," another name for school dis- 
tricts of which the first mention occurs in 1780. There were the 
Sawyer squadron, the Nor 'East squadron, the HiU squadron 
and others. In 1790, it was voted to divide the town into six 
districts which later were increased to thirteen. 

In 1755, the town voted "that if the inhabitants of the 
southwest part of the town will vote to build a school house on 


the land of Dea. Edward Coburn on the north side of the road 
betwixt Deacon Edward Coburn his house and Samuel Coburn 's 
house, that they shall have the school kept there according to 
their proportion of the taxes." As in the next year the town 
voted to accept the sehoolhouse, it is evident that one was built. 
In 1821, Ephraim Coburn conveyed to the First School District 
"a tract of laud" where the sehoolhouse has formerly stood. 
The condition was that "the district should build a sehoolhouse 
on said land." This building is now occupied by the Cobiirn 

As it was erected by the district and not by the town, the 
action is not recorded on the town books and the omission has 
led to the error that the building was the original one instead of 
the second. Pawtucketville was District No. 2 and had two 
• school buildings, both of which are now standing. There were 
no settlements about here requiring a sehoolhouse, as until the 
bridge was built it was open country, but later as the families 
increased a new building was demanded and a district formed. 
The first building was moved from Lowell and at first located 
near the river, but about 1825 was again moved to its present 
position on the west side of the Mammoth road, near the ceme- 
tery. The lot secured for the building was a large one, includ- 
ing the land where the later one stood. This building was moved 
a few rods away and was converted into a cottage, and a new and 
more modern one was erected on the site. This section was 
annexed to Lowell in 1874, and the building has been used as a 
library, reading room and club room. The CoUinsville district 
was in existence before the Pawtucketville section required a 
sehoolhouse, and was formerly district No. 2. but now is No. 3. 

There have been three school buildings, all of which are now 
standing. The first one is located in Varnum's survey of 1831 
as "three rods from Daniel P. Coburn 's and 38 rods to Hugh 
Jones'." It is still standing in the same location and forms a part 
of the barn now at the residence of Mrs. George B. Brown. 
The old windows which were at the west end of the building 
still remain and can be seen from Mammoth road. On the west 
side of the Mammoth road and nearly opposite this building 
there is a tenement house which was for many years the second 
sehoolhouse which was two stories in height to accommodate 


the increased population of the village. When the present 
school building was erected, this building was removed a few 
rods and sold. The present building was originally a four-room 
house, but later on addition was made, increasing its capacity. 

The Navj' Yard was District No. 4, formerly No. 3 West. 
This district has had five school biiildiugs. In 1828, the district 
purchased a lot of land on Pleasant street, near Riverside street, 
of J. B. Vamum. In the deed reference is made to the location 
as "where the old school house stood." The building erected 
on this lot after its purchase, is now used as a dwelling house, 
but retains its original shape with the exception of the removal 
of the belfry. About 1865, a new two-stoi-y building was erected 
on a lot a little to the east of the old one. This was afterward 
burned. After the annexation of a part of the town to Lowell 
in 1874, a new sehoolhouse was built north of the village on 
Parker Avenue, resembling in general shape the one at Collins- 
ville. In 1906, owing to the increase in the number of pupils, 
a two-room building was erected on Sladen street, near Pleasant 
street, and is called the Goodhue school. 

District No. 5, formerly No. 3 East, has had four school- 
houses. The first was nearly opposite the First Congregational 
church building on Tan House hill. June 4, 1798, Jonathan 
Taylor conveyed to William Hildreth land and buildings, now 
the Blanchard Hospital, "reserving liberty for the school house 
to stand on the land it now stands on as long as the said school 
house shall last." The second building stood on land now a 
part of the Hildreth Cemetery nearly opposite Sutherland 
street. The third building stood on the east side of Hildreth 
street and was built about 1831 ; it was called the old red sehool- 
house. The fourth was built after 1870 and stood on the west 
side of Hildreth street near Pleasant street and west of the com- 
mon but the annexation of a large part of the district to Lowell 
made it of no value for school purposes and it was sold and is 
now a dwelling house. The district which included Christian 
hill was formerly No. 6 and the first sehoolhouse stood on the 
west side of Tenth street, about 75 rods north of the Fay build- 
ings on laud of Ephraiiii Wood. When it was no longer needed 
for school purposes, Stephen Wood, a brother of Ephraim, 
moved it to Marsh liill and occupied it with his family. The 


second building, after some controversy, was erected on Tenth 
street about 1834. It was built of brick and was sold in 1847 
to Joseph R. Tibbetts, who taught a private school, but is now 
used as a dwelling house. The district then purchased the build- 
ing on Myrtle street, formerly owned by the proprietors of the 
Central Village Academy. In 1851, this section was annexed to 

New Boston district was the new No. 6 and has had three 
schoolhouscs. The first stood on the triangle at the junction of 
the Old Meadow road and Hildreth street, south of the Crosby 
buildings. A description of this building will apply to others 
of the same period as the same general plau was followed: It 
was square with a four-sided pitch roof, the roofs forming a 
point in the center. It had an enclosed porch which contained 
hooks for clothing and hats. The teacher's desk, raised a step 
from the floor, was opposite the door, and in the center of the 
room was the floor where the classes stood at recitations, while 
on each side of the room were desks and seats for the scholars. 
The center floor was level, but at the outer wall it was raised 
forming an inclined plane. The tops of the desks were of oak 
plank, two inches thick, and the seat for each desk was attached 
to the desk in the rear. A board extending the whole length of 
the building on each side against the wall formed seats for the 
older pupils. The building was sold about 1870 and removed 
to Lowell. 

The second house was located across the road, a few rods 
northwest of the first one, but it was destroyed by fire about 
1875. The third house was like the second, built in more modern 
style and located on Hildreth street, on land belonging to the 
Foster farm. After a few years of occupation as a schoolhouse, 
the number of pupils diminished imtil the town decided to close 
the school and transport the children to the school in the Navy 
Yard district, and the building was sold and removed to Colburn 
avenue, where it is used as a residence. The district at the 
Center was No. 7, but in 1790, it was designated as No. 4. This 
is the first building in the district of which there is any record 
and in the last year named it was voted to set the schoolhouse 
"between Isaac Fox's Cyder mill and the road to Wiuthrops 
meadows" which was the present Methuen road. Isaac Fox 


lived on the farm known as the Archibald Varnum farm and 
later owned by George D. Coburn. As this building became un- 
suitable for the increasing popi;lation of this vicinity, a new one 
was built on the common at the intersection of Broadway, Arling- 
ton and Willard streets. As the erection and care of the build- 
ing was under the supervision of the district, no records are to 
be found on the town books, and it is only from other sources 
that information in regard to dates of building can be found 
and in most cases these dates cannot be determined with accu- 
racy, but it is known that this building stood on this common as 
early as 1831. This building becoming antiquated, a new one 
containing two rooms was built nearer the center of the district, 
and after a few years' use was remodeled and the lower rooms 
used for the town office, and the library and museum were located 
in the upper rooms. 

The extension of the electric road to the Center again in- 
creased the number of families and the new building was not 
suitable for school purposes, so it was abandoned and a new one 
built on modem lines near the end of the ear line. Marsh hill 
was District No. 8. There was no building for many years 
which was used for a schoolhouse, but the children were taught 
in the farmers' houses. In 1753, the school master was David 
Pox, Sr., whose son David, Jr., was a revolutionary soldier. 
His farm was the one now owned by Mrs. Eben T. Fox and the 
school children met at his house for instruction. Three quarters 
of a century later the school was kept in the farm house on the 
same farm then owned by his grandson, Samuel Pox. The first 
schoolhouse in this district was built in the old .style already 
described, and was standing in 1831. At that time it had been 
newly built. The building with woodshed covered the lot, thus 
leaving no place for a playground or yard. About 1855, the 
floor was lowered to a level position and the desks rebuilt. In 
1880, a new one was built, so placed that there was a school yard 
in which the children could exercise. In a few years the town 
discontinued the school and transported the pupils to the Center. 
It is now used as a residence. 

In those earUer years the boys were taught to bow to the 
teacher when entering the schoolroom and tlie girls to "drop a 


courtesy," while out-of-doors they must bow respectfully to 
any one who passed by the school. 

The Kenwood District was No. 9. The first schoolhouse 
stood a few rods east of the cross road leading north to the 
Methuen road. It was on the north side of the road and until 
recently the doorstep marked the spot. The land upon which 
it was built was donated by Samuel Varnum 4, son of Joseph 3, 
who purchased the Prime lot which was the sixteenth lot on the 

The second building was located nearer the present one, 
but soon became too small for the rapidly increasing population 
and a new one, built in 1900, which was enlarged in 1911, and a 
bell weighing 350 lbs., placed iipon it. No. 10 was called the 
Jones' district and was situated between the Center and the 
Methuen line. The first building, so far as is known, stood on 
Broadway, further east than the present one. It was built in 
the same style as the earlier ones were but, unlike the others, 
there were heavy oak timbers on each side of the aisle with mor- 
tices into which the desks were set and over which the scholars 
must step to reach their seats. The chimney projected down- 
ward into the room about two feet and was supported in its place 
by hangers fastened to the overhead beams. After I860, the 
building was repaired and to some extent its interior features 
were changed, but when the school was discontinued it was very 
dilapidated. It was sold and used for several years as a dwell- 
ing house but was later destroyed by fire. 

After transporting the pupils to the Center for a time, a 
new building was erected at the corner of Broadway and the 
cross road leading to Burns' hill. District No. 11 was the 
Black north or East Dracut district. There have been three 
schoolhouses in this district. The first one becoming, after 
several years, unfit for use, a second one was built on the same 
lot of land, and when a new one was built the old one was used 
as a club house. The third one was recently built on a more 
modern plan with large playground, it stands on the opposite 
side of the road from the lot where the first ones stood. 

The district numbers have been changed at various times. 
In 1830, the numbers were. No. 1, the west part of the town; 
No. 2, Collinsville ; No. 3 West,' the Navy Yard village; No. 3 


East, Hovey square ; No. 4, the Center village ; No. 5, Kenwood ; 
No. 6, East Dracut ; No. 7, New Boston ; No. 8, INIarsh hill ; No. 
9, Broadway; No. 10, Christian Mil. In 1851, when annexed 
to Lowell, the last named was number 6. 

The building of Pawtucket Bridge caused a new district 
to be formed, which until annexation was No. 2, and the numbers 
of some of the others were changed. In the last annexation the 
West Dracut, Pawtueketville and Hovey Square districts ceased 
to exist, but the numbers of the other districts remained 

During the first century of the existence of the town the 
length of the school term each year did not exceed three months. 
The winter months were the ones when the boys could best be 
spared from the work on the farm and these were considered 
sufficient to give the pupils an education. In each room there 
was a large tireplace which, while furnishing abundant heat, 
was able to warm the room but little as the most of the heat 
escaped up the chimney, but by collecting about the fireplace 
they could be kept comfortable. There was an abundance of 
wood and it was the duty of the older boys to keep the fireplace 
well filled. Later, when stoves were introduced, the room was 
more evenly heated. No janitors were employed but the boys 
attended to the kindling of the fire and shovelling the snow, 
while the girls swept the floor. 

It was customary for the teacher to report in writing to the 
Superintending School Committee a list of the names and ages 
of the scholars, a list of the studies, number of weeks in a term 
and compensation received. A few of these reports have been 
preserved and from them information has been gathered relating 
to early school days. None earlier than 1817 are to be found 
and while from old people we learn that before this time only 
reading, spelling, writing and arithmetic were taught, these 
reports inform us that grammar and geography classes were 
formed and, in one school, a history class existed. Other studies 
are given as "testament," "alphabet," words of one syllable 
and words of two syllables. The number of pupils in the town 
would average about forty to each district. 

In 1830, there were ninety-nine who were taught by one 
teacher at the Navy Yard village. The highest salary paid was 


$5 per week, including board and was paid to a graduate of 
Dartmouth College. Other male teachers received $3.50 per 
week including board, which was reckoned at $1.50 per week. 
Female teachers received, besides their board, $1 per week and, 
in one district, the sum of 92 cents per week was paid. A teacher 
sometimes "boarded around," living a specified number of days 
with each family. In some instances when the school money was 
expended, the teacher would remain a few weeks to teach pupils 
who desired further instruction, receiving their compensation 
from the parents of those attending. Private schools would also 
be opened in the spring and autumn months which were benefi- 
cial to the young people and which were well attended. In 1860 
Josiah S. Phillips taught a private school for several terms in 
the vestry of the Old Yellow Meeting house and had good 

The schools have been conducted under both the town and 
district system. Under the last named system a Superintending 
Committee composed of three was appointed who had a general 
oversight of the schools. They examined the teachers and 
accepted or rejected them as the case might be, they selected the 
text-books which were owned by the pupils and recommended 
certain lines of studies. In addition to the genei-al committee, 
the district would select a man who was called the Prudential 
Committee. He employed the teacher, subject to the approval 
of the general committee, purchased supplies and kept order 
when unruly scholars refused to obey the teacher. They also 
attended to the expenditure of the money allotted to each district 
by the town. The schools at the present time are conducted on 
the same general principles but differ in detail. 

Dracut, with three other towns in the vicinity, employs a 
Superintendent while this town appoints a general committee 
of nine at its annual meeting. This committee assigns certain 
duties to each of the members, certain ones purchasing supplies, 
others attending to transporting of pupils, others having charge 
of repairs, the Superintendent overseeing and advising when 
necessary. This system was adopted in 1881. Truant officers 
are also appointed who attend to absentees. The town employs 
Supervisors of Music and the Manual Arts are also taught. 
Until recent years no pianos were provided or music as a study 


taught. Scholars sang songs led by the teacher or one of the 
older scholars. Exhibitions are now given in which the scholars 
display specimens of drawing, leather and burnt-wood work, 
etc., which they have prepared. 

For several years preceding and following 1850, the school 
committee prepared reports which the town clerk entered in the 
town records, but which are now embodied in the annual printed 
report of the town. In 1829, the amount appropriated for 
the support of schools was .$600; in 1858, $1,500, and in 1919, 

Dracut has seven .school buildings, valued as follows 
Center, $14,000 ; Collinsville, $14,000 ; Parker Avenue, $10,000 
Kenwood, $10,000; Goodhue, $8,000; East Dracut, $4,000 
Broadway, $2,000. 

In 1911, penny savings banks were introduced in each 
school as an encouragement to the cultivation of habits of 
thrift and the money deposited in the Savings Banks. By this 
system, pupils may deposit in small sums which are entered in 
a deposit book to their credit. 

It is in order to mention another private school which, 
although the building was located in PeUiam, the pupils were 
principally from Dracut. The length of the school term, while 
extending over a period of six months, was an improvement over 
the earlier three-month period but still unsatisfactory. A 
private school was opened having a Spring and Fall term. In 
1853, Capt. Gilbert Coburn of Pelham, N. H., whose farm was 
partly in Dracut, built a schoolhouse on his land, employed a 
teacher and gave notice that for a small weekly fee scholars 
would be received. The parents of the children living in the 
vicinity realized the advantages of this arrangement and the 
house was soon filled. While the Marsh hill and New Boston 
districts furnished the greater part of the scholars, some came 
from other districts, securing boarding places on the neighbor- 
ing farms. The extra instruction thus received was of great 
benefit in later years to these pupils. 

Central, VilijAGe ACiVDEMY 

In 1833, a number of the citizens of the Centralville district 
which, in 1851, became annexed to Lowell, perceiving the need 


of better educational facilities for the children, formed a com- 
pany which was incorporated March 1st, of that year, under the 
name of "The Proprietors of the Central Village Academy." 
The president was Joseph Bradley. Benjamin F. Varnum was 
treasurer and Jefferson Bancroft, secretary. June 6, 1833, they 
purchased of Elisha FuUer, Josiah B. French, Joshua Bennett 
and Joseph Bradley four lots of land comprising 18,400 square 
feet, "bounded westerly on Chestnut and easterly on Elm 
streets" — these are now Myrtle and Beech streets— on condi- 
tion that a building for school purposes be erected in one year 
from the date of deed, and a school maintained for at least five 
years. The price paid for the land was $1,200. 

The school was opened in 1836 with Isaac WithereU, A. M., 
as principal and numbered ninety-one pupils. The building 
was commonly known as the Dracut Academy and is described 
as follows: "It was a plain two-story wooden building with 
square belfry on the end of a pitch roof; it stood end to the 
street and well back from it: there were two deeply recessed 
entrances in the end with a window over each door; an orna- 
mental casement in the gable completes the picture. It looked 
as much like a country church as a school house. A good sized 
bell with a brisk, cheerful voice called the school morning and 
afternoon. Robert L. Read 'pidled the beU' but many willing 
hands were ready to help, even the girls thought it rare fun to 
cling on and be pulled up as the bell swung over. ' ' Succeeding 
Mr. WithereU as principals, were Benjamin F. Butler, Rev. Mr. 
Cutler, Rev. Cyrus Mann, William G. Russell, Rev. John C. 
Ingalls, Henry F. Durant and Charles Morrill. 

The school seems not to have met with the success that was 
expected and the number of pupils diminished. Gen. B. F. 
Butler in his book says: "In the autumn of 1839 a vacancy 
occurred in a small academy in the town of Dracut across the 
Merrimack river, and the trustees asked me to take charge of 
the school. For my services I was to receive the tuition paid 
by the pupils and that depended upon the number of scholars. 
It was a queer school. There were twenty-one scholars about 
sixteen of whom were boys. The large portion of them were 
pupils who had found cause to leave the schools in Lowell, gen- 
erally not because of their virtues. They ignored all discipline 


and had routed the former preceptor. I, by habit of mind, was 
a disciplinarian so that it happened at the end of three weeks 
I had lost eleven scholars out of my twenty-one, but no one of 
them had gone away withoiit a thrashing, the remembrance of 
which would last him a lifetime." 

The school passed under Free Will Baptist control and an 
effort was made to conduct it along more practical lines. Prom 
an advertisement in a Lowell newspaper of June, 1842, we 
quote: "Th« location of this school is surpassed by few if any 
in New England. There is connected with it a large and con- 
venient boarding house, a workshop, a small track (sic) of land 
and a cap shop for the ladies, so that individuals, both male 
and female, may in part at least, defray their expenses if they 
choose." In 1843 the building was purchased by the district 
(then called No. 6) and the district school established therein. 
After the annexation of Centralville to Lowell, in 1851, the city 
had a grammar school in the building until it was superceded 
by a more commodious brick structure. The old academy build- 
ing was then removed to Bridge street where it was occupied 
by the Woods, Sherwood Co. from 1866 to 1910. It is now 
owned by Miss Martina Gage. 

A list of the names of the pupils who attended the academy 
in 1836 has been found in a circular which has been preserved 
and in which many names are found of residents of the city 
at a later period in its history. 


Joseph Bradlej% President 

Hon. Benjamin P. Varnum 

Jonathan Morse, Treasurer 

Joshua Bennett 

Humphrey Webster 

Jefferson Bancroft 

Kirk Boot, Esq. Joshua Swan, Esq. 

Rev. Theodore Edson Rev. Amos Blanchard 

Elisha Bartlett, M. D. Joseph B. Varnum, Esq. 


William Austin, Esq. 
Luthei" Lawrence, Esq. 
Dr. Jesse Pox 

John Clark, Esq. 

Oliver M. Whipple, Esq. 

Hon. Nathan Wright 


Isaac Wetherell, A. M., Principal 

Mrs. Isaac WethereU, Assistant 

Miss Sarah A. Copland, Teacher of Music 

Pupils — Male 
Joseph Bradley, Haverhill 
William H. Bradley, Dracutt 
Augustus Bradley, Dracutt 
William Brown, Lowell 
George W. Coburn, Dracutt 
Joseph B. V. Coburn, Dracutt 
James M. Coburn, Dracutt 
David Dana, Jr., Lowell 
Ebenezer Hanchett, Jr., 

Fisher A. Hildreth, Dracutt 
James F. Huntington, Lowell 
Joseph Gr. Kittridge, Lowell 
Moses L. Knowles, Lowell 
Daniel Mansfield, 

South Reading 
George W. More, Dracutt 
Alanson O. Ordway, Lowell 
William W. Reed, Dracutt 
Enoch M. Reed, Dracutt 

Charles F. Reed, Lowell 
Edward F. Sherman, Dracutt 
William P. Spaulding, LoweU 
Francis B. Stanwood, Lowell 
Ephraim Stevens, 

Manchester, N. H. 
Natt Stiekney, Dracutt 
Joseph E. Sweetser, Lowell 
Joseph W. Tapley, Lowell 
Joshua Thissell, Jr., Dracutt 
Frederick W. Tuxbury, 

Pelham, N. H. 
Joseph B. Varnum, Dracutt 
John Waugh, Lowell 
Timothy Webber, Lowell 
Abel A. Wheeler, Lowell 
James W. White, Lowell 
Edward Wilson, Dracutt 
William H. Wood, Lowell 

Total number — 35 

Female Department 

Emma C. Bamford, Lowell 
Margaret M. Bartlett, 

Jane E. Bartlett, Plymouth 
Elizabeth Bell, Chester, N. H. 
Louisa W. Bradlej', Dracutt 
Mary J. Bradley, Dracutt 
Harriett Bradley, Dracutt 

Susan Burnham. 

Pelham, N. H. 
Margaret W. W. Borland, 

Joan C. Caryll, Lowell 
Mary A. Coburn, Dracutt 
Lauretta Coburn, Dracutt 
Elizabeth Dana, Lowell 



Oliviii P. Eastman, Lowell 
Mary A. Farnsworth, 

Mary A. French, Lowell 
Civvil M. Fry, Lowell 
Belinda P. Hadley, 

Maria J. R. Hastings, Lowell 
Susan Hildreth, Draciitt 
Harriett Hildreth, Dracutt 
Liieinda Hill, Dracutt 
Mar.y J. Hill, Hopkinton 
Harriett Kimball, Lowell 
Joanna Kittredge, Dracutt 
Hannah Kittredge, Dracutt 
Lucy P. Lawrence, Lowell 
Sophia J. Lyon, 

Pelham, N. H. 
Martha P. Merriam, 

Louisa J. Murdock, Lowell 
Cornelia M. Murdock, Lowell 
Ann M. Parker, Lowell 
Jane M. Parker, Lowell 

Sarah A. G. Paul, Lowell 
Marietta Reed, Lowell 
Sophia Richardson, Dracutt 
Artemisia Richardson, 

Lucian Rollins, Lowell 
Margaret B. Rollins, Lowell 
Nancy W. Rollins, Lowell 
Sarah Shedd, Lowell 
Alsey Stevens, Dracutt 
Mary J. Tapley, Lowell 
Sarah A. Tapley, Lowell 
Caroline B. Varnum, Dracutt 
Mary B. Varnum, Dracutt 
Susan H. Varnum, Dracutt 
Mary A. Webster, Dracutt 
Elizabeth White, Lowell 
Irene C. Wight, Dracutt 
Jerusia B. Wight, Dracutt 
Charity B. Winslow, Lowell 
Eliza A. Wood, Lowell 
Mary M. Worthen, Dracutt 
Susanna Wyman, Lowell 
Sarah A. Wyman, Lowell 

Total number — 56 

Singing Schools 

Until recent years, music has not been taught in the public 
schools, but instead of this method of instruction singing schools 
have been conducted in different parts of the town by private 
enterprise. About 1825, Josiah Griffin of Methuen taught a 
school at Dracut Center. A few years later, in Districts No. 7 
and No. 9, these schools were conducted bj' the brothers Phineas 
and Edward Richardson. About 1860, Mr. Pinkham of Lowell 
taught a school at Dracut Center. At the vestry of the First 
Congregational Church of Dracutt the brothers Coffran and 
Vespasian Nutting taught, followed by Prof A. D. Greeley of 
Pelham, N. H., who also taught at the Center. In 1870, Shapley 
Morgan taught several terms and the last terms were in charge 


of Charles P. Hutchinson. The long evenings of the winter 
seasons were favorable to the young people of the town who 
met for instruction in singing. 


To those who were unable to sing and who maj' be found 
in each generation, the lyceum provided an opportunity for 
instruction in debate which was of value to the citizens when 
attending town meetings or serving in the Legislature. Li 1829, 
a society was formed under the name of the "Dracut Mutual 
Debating Society" of which the secretary's record is preserved. 
The earliest date is Dec. 1, 1829, and the list of members com- 
prises the most prominent and influential men in the town. 
They were farmers, phj'sicans, manufacturers, lawyers and 
ministers, and the records show that these debates were inter- 
esting and instructive. The first question was presented by 
John A. Doak : " Is reading novels beneficial to society ? ' ' This, 
after discussion, was decided in the negative. Another question 
was "Has wine or women been the cause of the greatest evil 
to society?" By a vote of 16 to 1 it was decided that wine 
was the greater evil. The record terminates abruptly in the 
spring of 1830 with a vote to meet in April for the transaction 
of special business. 

A lyceum was organized at the Center about 1855. It is 
said to have been very successful, but no records have been 
found. This was not strictly a debating society, but included 
recitations and a paper was presented at each meeting prepared 
under the direction of an editor and to which the members 
contributed articles of poetry and prose. About this time a 
lyceum was organized and meetings held in Goodhue's Hall, 
which was in a building now at the corner of Lakeview Avenue 
and Pleasant Streets. It was conducted along the same line as 
the one at the Center. 


The town library was not established until a recent date. 
It was among the last of the towns in the state to provide in 
this manner for the benefit of the public. This was not on ac- 


count of an absence of desire for intellectual study or recrea- 
tion, but rather on account of the shape of the town which 
is long and narrow and composed of four villages, which pre- 
vents the gathering of the public buildings at any place which 
accommodates the town. There was a small library owned by 
each district which was placed in some farmhouse near the 
schoolhouse and to which the scholars had access and the 
privilege of reading the books. These were speciallj^ adapted 
for instruction to the school children and no provision was 
made for the adult portion of the community. 

About 1900 a libraiy was purchased by private subscrip- 
tion and placed in the residence of Koswell S. Fox, and the 
use of the books was for the benefit of all who wished to read 
them. The existence of this library was of short duration as 
that same year the town appropriated $200 for the purpose 
of establishing a town library. The schoolhouse at the Center 
had become vacant, the school being removed to a larger build- 
ing, and the lower story had been arranged for town offices. 
The upper room was provided with shelves and cases, and 
books purchased. The Massachusetts Free Library Committee 
furnished 120 volumes and a large number of books were pre- 
sented by individuals. 

Library stations have been established at Collinsville, the 
Navj' Yard village, Kenwood and East Dracut, where card 
catalogues are placed and the books conve.yed which permits 
the distribution of the books in all parts of the town. A small 
room, formerh- a cloak room, is used for a meeting place for 
the trustees and a reference room. On its shelves are placed 
encyclopedias, genealogical records, vital records of the towns 
in this state and books of reference and general information 
which may be consulted at the library, but are not for general 
distribution. A former recitation room, being vacant, has been 
arranged with cabinets in which are placed articles which are 
usually foimd in museums. In addition to articles of curiositj'. 
a collection of old household utensils, farming tools, military 
equipment, stuffed birds and animals and geological specimens 
has been made. 

The control of the library is in the hands of a board of 
trustees numbering six members who represent the different 


parts of the town. The officers elected each year are a chair- 
man and secretary who must be a member of the board. The 
trustees employ a librarian and assistant who cannot legally 
be members of the board. The call for gifts of books met with 
a hearty response, also gifts of curiosities for the museum. 
The town has, for several years, appropriated $1,000 for its 
suppoi't, which enables the trustees to purchase the latest books. 
The trustees have been instrumental in completing work which 
would be beneficial to the town. They secured the printing of 
the vital records of the town previous to 1850, which may be 
found in the state libraries of every state in the United States, 
also in every town and college library in Massachusetts. A fund 
known as the Eddy fund, to which the state makes an annual 
appropriation of money, enables the towns to publish these 
records with the expenditure of a small sum of money. 





HE first settlers north of the river needed few highways. 
In this vicinity they lived near the north side of the river, 
consequently one or possibly two roads leading to the place of 
crossing were all that were needed. As the number of their 
cattle increased it created a demand for hay for winter use, 
and as English hay had not been introduced their dependence 
was upon the meadows for their supply. The low land about 
the first settlement was not sufficient to produce hay enough, 
but on Double Brook, Beaver Brook and Long Pond there were 
swamps which, when cleared of bushes, furnished a sufficient 
quantity. Cart roads were made leading to these meadows which 
later were laid out and became the present highways. 

Previous to the time when Webb disposed of his holdings, 
he requested the selectmen of Chelmsford to lay out a road 
from his house to Chelmsford common. The answer to his peti- 
tion is recorded : 

"Mr. John Web Desiring A high Way from his farme over 
meremack River Towards Chelmsford the Selectmen Consider- 
ing thereof have appointed William fletcher and James parker 
to Laye Out the Same, And the aforesd William and James 
make thare Returns to the selectmen that they have Deter- 
mined The aforesd way to Begin at meremack River where 
Mr. John Web made his Ware [weir] And so to be of a Seficant 
Bredth for Carting And to Run throw to the Comon Witness 
In the Name of the selectmen the 29th:7:1668. Sam '11 Adams 
Recorder. ' ' 

This appears to have been satisfactory to the families 
of the Cobums and Varnums for several years but in 1710 
the owner of the land on the south side of the river attempted 
to close the road. The settlers in Dracut desiring only their 
rights petitioned the General Court as follows: "To the Hon- 
ord Court of ye Generil sessions of the peace Holden by her 


Majestyes Justices in & for ye County of Mddlx June ye 13 
1710 at Concord. The petition of severil of the Inhabitants of 
the Plantations called Draucutt scituat upon the Northerly side 
of Mirrimack river Humbly sheweth. That where as your peti- 
tioners as also our predecessors of ye fore cited place have 
for now fourty yeares peaeebly enjoyed the free use of away 
to travil & go to Chelmsford over merimack river at ye landing 
place against ye now dwelling house of Joseph Coleburn the 
wch way went from sd landing place cross ye farme wch did 
formerly belong to major Hinchman, the wch way as we ap- 
prehend is in the same place where it was layd out by order 
of the selectmen of Chelmsford and is more convenient upon 
severil accounts then any other place fer landing our boat both 
from winds and Ice in the season of ye year as also that place 
is more convenient to defend the Boat from ye Enemies if 
assaulted there being no other house fortyfied at ye river but sd 
Colburns there being nine or ten houses near thereto all which 
desire the way may be there being the principle part of sd 
plantation. But there is now one Jonathan Howard a cuccussor 
upon the sd farm of major Hinchman doth stop us in our pass- 
ing in sd way by fencing us from going there when we did 
apprehend was our right to go. And therefore we your poor 
petitioners Humbly beg and desire of this Honoi-ed Court to 
consider our Condition and order something to be done to effect. 

Daniell Coburn 
Joseph Coburn 
in the name of the rest" 

The answer to the petition was favorable as a brief report 
of the court will show: "Jiily ye 30 1710 The Court Consider- 
ing the danger of laying sd way any where else Especially in 
time of War Order that the sd way be Continued and used as 
it is now Till this Court Shall See Cause to alter the same and 
sd Draeut men to pay costs. ' ' 

The Howard farm mentioned in the petition afterward 
came into possession of Dr. J. C. A.yer. An old path still leads 
under the railroad bridge to the river and a ferry existed later 
at this place. The second record to be found is in the files of 
the Middlesex County Court of General Sessions and is endorsed, 


•'A Copy of the Highways iu Draeut." And again in a later 
handwriting, "Coppy of Laying out Roads in the Town of 
Dracutt. ' ' 

The copj- was made bj' Ephraim Hildreth, who became 
town clerk in 1713, and appears to embody the records of two 
of his predecessors, Daniel Colburn, clerk in 1710, and John 
Varnum, clerk in 1711-12. The record gives the historian very 
little information as the locations of points given are forgotten 
and some of these projected roads may never have had an ex- 
istence, but as a literary curiosity, showing the spelling, lack 
of punctuation marks and the abscence of the rules governing 
the use of capital letters which were not made until a century 
and a quarter later, it is given in full. 

"The Committey that was chose Began at the Eastly and 
[easterly end] at the hill coled flage mado hill then they begon 
To lay out ways and so went over the brook and by marymack 
Reuer untel they Came all a Long By marcked Trees — then 
Returned Back a gain to a Dam Coled John Varnums Dam By 
marymack Reuer — then Begon a gain over this Dam or very 
near it and so went along to the East side of a hill that is 
near Petoekit mado over a lettel plain and so between two hills 
to Beuer Brook fals — then a lettel father and then By the Log 
fence untell wie came to Sardint [Sergeant] Hildreths house — 
then wee Returned a gain to the top of the hill Near the Brook 
that runs into the field — then we went towards Mr. wentrops 
farm and so laid the way the Lots men untell we came to a 
Brook near meremack all along by and with marcked trees — 
and we Began the Way at Dunstable line a Bout a pine 
tree By the path so run thru the Varnums land over Carletts 
[Scarlets] Brook and through the Colburns here and by two 
Round ponds and a Ion Down the hill to John Colburns hous 
as is marcked and Bounded and so Runs two Rod and a half 
wide By the Houses Deches and By a dech Coled Sethell Dech 
tel thay came to a Brook in Joseph Colburns Land that Runs 
into Sechels meado and Cros a lot of his land till it corns to 
Run between Daniel Colburn and Samawell Colburn and so 
to Run on till it Corns to Varnums fence a long by Joseph 
Varnums orchard and along thru the varnums land By 


flag a mado bdllside on his south side — to Disstinglesh the 
hige way that corns from merymack Reuer by the Lotmens at 
a destance By Ephraim Hildreth hous by the East side of the 
hill by petocket mado through the varnums thrugh the Col- 
burns Land Near there houses through huts to Dunstable line — 
allso a way Laid out for Ephraim Hildreth through Mr. belsher 
or how so euer it is to his twelve acars of meado — and allso a 
way Laid out to the meado which goes by the Name of the Grat 
or furder meados by the Colburns and Varnums meado we be- 
gon this Way at the Contrj- Rode By the ministrers thirty 
acars Lot and so runs on the olde way to wegwom Bredg to 
Beauer Broock Brege and there Runs on the west side of meado 
once coaled allcokes and so Runs on to the olde way a gainst 
the plain that Is beyond Doble Berege and Keeps on the olde 
way over the meado Brock and to the New meado — we laid 
out the old way that hath Ben improved all by marcked trees 
Dracuett in the year 1711 over the Brock Caled Clay pet Brock 
which Comes out of the Sprouce Swampt on the East side of 
it there we begon and laid oiit a way frum the hige way that 
Runs By the Deeh and a long Near the Brock alettel space 
off untell it Come a gain the old fordway and so Runs on a lettel 
hill and By the End of the Long Pond mado — and allso a 
nother way weay laid out for the propehietrs. On the same 
place that is from the Countrj- Rode a long the old way to 
Barmado [Bear meadow] then to sprouce Swampt mado and 
Consearing the Spang that is Eaza Colburn Junior that Runs 
out of the New mados a way laid out fer footmen and horsmen 
to Goo ouer and fer Carts on the Norwesterly End at a Narro 
place Daniel Colburn town Clark — the Country Rode from the 
meting house as to the Gompos Lots ear marckt — a corb way 
Beginning at Joseph Colburns hous a long by the Reuer to 
Thomas Varnums land to the Bank of the Dech So Roning 
northerly Crosing Brocke so roning Northeast of the North 
side of the orchard One Rod and a half wide from thence in a 
open Rode to Doble Brock mado as trees ear marcked — also a 
Rode from the hieway that Runes to Dunstable By John Col- 
burns hous a long by the Dech on the North side of it to the 
Wastward corner of it as it is Bounded — the way that Begings 
at John varnums Dam that is by the Reuer and so Rones down 


to Beuear Brock By petockit foles Is a corbway and Not a open 
Rode — also a Rode that Begins a hieway at Beuer foles Runing 
Norwest to the old mado way a Bout two Rod and a half wide. 
Allso a Rode Beginning at the Rode that goes to the Colburns 
Newmeados so Runing northward near the Varnums and Col- 
burns old mado Crossing a Brock Between two letel hills as tis 
marcked By trees so Running By marcked trees to the farm 
that was Richard Collecockts on Goldiugs Brook that Runing 
Eastwardly thru the farm that was Negros [Negus'] — allso the 
Rode that gose to the old mados which Is the Colburns and 
\arnums Is to go to euerj^ lot allso there is full liberty and 
preulig to sled hay ouer the olde meados In winter time from 
Golding meados Collecots Retten with Derection with two of the 
Committy that Layd out the Rods and waj'S that ear here named 
Dracut april the third in the year 1711 

John Vaknum town CI 

Danil Colburu 
Joseph Varnum 

Ephraim Hildreth Town Clerk.'" 

As many of these locations are unknown except to a few 
who have made a study of them, a reference to them will assist 
the reader in placing them; possibly there will be the same 
information in other chapters. Flag Meadow Hill is the well- 
known site of the Lowell General Hospital and the meadow 
lies on the northeast side. John Varnum 's dam was at the 
narrow place in the river at the foot of the rapids, near the 
textile school. The road from the dam to Beaver brook falls 
must have been Riverside street. But a road appears to have 
been laid out nearer the river towards the mouth of Beaver 
brook. In the report of a committee on fishing rights on the 
river, made in 1817, they quote from a town record, now miss- 
ing, that "a road was laid out by the to-^vn committy from 
Flag Meadow Hill to the mouth of Beaver Brook." Also from 
the present town records that the town "made an agreement 
with Joseph Varnum and Joseph Varnum Jr. to discontinue 


the said road from the lower hole so called to the mouth of 
Beaver Brook." 

Sergeant Ephraim Hildreth is supposed to have lived near 
the residence of his great grandson, Dr. Israel Hildreth, near 
the Hildreth cemetery, and the road from his house to the falls 
would be Hildreth and Pleasant Streets. "Then we returned 
to the top of the hill" that is to Hovey Square, and the "way 
to Mr. Winthrops' would be by way of Pleasant and Arlington 
streets, as at present. The road from Dunstable line across Scar- 
let's brook and through the Colburn property would appear to 
be what is now Varnum avenue, the brook in Joseph Colburn 's 
land being Clay Pit brook. Pawtucket meadow was near the 
junction of Beaver brook with the river. The way for Mr. 
Hildreth to get to his meadow was very likely the present right- 
of-way leading from Greenmont avenue to the rifle range. The 
way from the minister's lot to the Great meadows was appar- 
ently wliat was called the Old Meadow road leading over the 
bridge, which crosses the brook above the site of the paper mill 
and which was then called Wigwam bridge. 

Alcock's meadows were on the brook north of Lakeview 
avenue where the pumping station is located. "Doble Bridge" 
is not identified, but was possibly across Beaver brook, near 
Double brook. The way to Double brook meadow and Long 
Pond meadow was Totman road and Nashua road. "Gompos 
lots" laid on the west side of Beaver brook in Pelham, but the 
road to them is difficult to identify, although a portion of it 
would appear to be Mammoth road at Double Brook meadow. 
The road from Beaver falls, northwest to the Old Meadow road, 
must have been Hampson street. "Corb" is an obsolete form 
of curb and a corbway was a road probably over a swampy 
place, or the edge of a bank protected at the sides by a curb- 
ing of stone or logs to prevent teams from leaving the road. 
Bear Meadow lies northerly of Varnum avenue and is now 
crossed hy the present line between Lowell and Tj'ngsboro and 
is southwest of Huckleberry hill. "Consearing the spang" is 
difficult to explain although a spang was a point of meadow 
projecting into the upland. Golding's brook is an outlet of 
Corbett's pond in Windham and enters Beaver brook about a 
quarter of a mile northeast of Pelham Center. The ' ' f arme that 


was Richard CoUecoekte's" laid in the angle at the junction of 
the two brooks just mentioned. 

The duties of the committee which had been appointed to 
select locations for the roads ceased with the year 1710, as at 
this time another committee which had divided the territory 
into lots were authorized to lay out highways, a duty for which 
they were qualified on account of their knowledge of the loca- 
tion of the lots. In 1721 the committee laid out a road to Haver- 
hill, this last named town adjoining Dracut on the east. The 
general direction is easy to determine, and a part of the road 
is in existence after a lapse of nearly two centuries. They re- 
port as follows : 

"march the 25 1721 

a highway Laid out in Dracut in middlesex in new england 
in the reserved Land at a place called Prims Lott and Highin- 
sons Land two or three Rod wide as it is here platted out 
with heaps of stones and trees biassed with 2 blasses next the 
highway beginning westerly at Winthrops farm with heaps of 
rocks running easterly over Rocky Land then turning partly 
northeasterly with trees marked down a hill of a plain then 
running partly easterly on the north side of the little pond 
hole so continuing easterly to the mine pit hill on the north 
side of another pond hole also on the north side of the mine pit 
hill on the north side of another pond with a little crooke also 
on the north side of the mine pit then running northeasterly 
on the south side of a spruce bog in Higginsons Land then 
turning partly easterly to the east line of Dracutt Town this 
is a country Road from Dracutt to Haverhill Laid out and 
plotted and recorded by a Committy for said worke 


Joseph Varnum 

James Pales" 

In 1711, as before mentioiied, the committee had laid out 
a road to Winthrop Farm and partly across it to the brook 
near the former residence of Dana Richardson, below Kenwood 
schoolhouse. It is probable that the new road connected with 


this one, constituting the present travelled highway as far east 
as the cross road on which the Varnum burying ground is lo- 
cated. From this cross road to the George W. Coburn place, 
the road is of more recent date of location. The road to Haver- 
hill, above mentioned, turned to the north between the Varnum 
houses and continued about 40 rods nearly to the brook in the 
hollow, then turned in an easterly and northeasterly direction 
to the north side of the Mine Pit hill. The present road to the 
nickel mine starts from the present highway about a quarter 
of a mile east of the cross road on which the Varnum cemetery 
is located and reaches the old road before coming to the mine 
pit. It continues onward over the top of a ridge which forms 
one of the glacial eskers which have already been described, 
then running northeasterly it reaches a cross road which runs 
parallel with the last mentioned, terminating at the farm for- 
merly owned by Otis Whittier. At the present time it is sel- 
dom travelled, but it is within the recollection of people now 
living when it formed a means of communication between Dracut 
and Haverhill, now Methuen. 

With the record there exists a very primitive drawing con- 
sisting of two rows of dots to represent the road with two small 
circles to give the location of the pond holes and which also 
shows the location of the mine pit. December 22, 1795, the 
town voted to "throw up the town way that leads from a black 
oak tree standin about 40 rods northerly of Col. Joseph Bradley 
Varnum 's house and from thence eastwardly toward Benjamin 
Varnums house as far as to a white oak tree at a pair of bars 
sixty nine rods west of sd Benjamin Varnums house and accept 
in the room thereof a way laid out by Colonel Joseph B. Var- 
nums house and through his land to Benjamin Varnums land 
to the road and bound above mentioned." All traces of this 
road which was discontinued are obliterated, but at the place 
between the Varnum Cemetery and the brook where the black 
oak tree stood, there is now a pair of bars while the end of the 
road where the white oak stood is near the farm formerly ovraed 
by the late George "W. Coburn. A measurement of sixty-nine 
rods west of the Coburn house above mentioned terminates at 
a pair of bars where is now a farm road which was probably 
the end of the discontinued highway. 


Another road is described as follows: 

"March 25 1721 * * * beginning near the Colburns old 
meado Brook northerly of the spruce swamp which belongs to 
them so running northerly by trees marked then running more 
easterly to miry brook called Tonys brook then running south- 
easterly to Smiths meado which is Caleb Modys meado bounded 
with trees marked and heaps of rocks on rocks northeasterly 
crossing Island tree pond brooke near the south side of Gould- 
ings farm where the upland almost meets then running north- 
easterly on the southern end and eastward side of Spruce swamp 
to the Lotts upon Goldings brooke as far as the ledge of rocks 
and to the several lotts upon the Distracted meadows also a 
highway running noi'therly out of the above said highway to 
Joseph Varuums meadow upon Collieutts farm laid out plotted 
and recorded by us Commity for said worke. 


Joseph Vabnum 
James Fales." 

In addition to the record there is an old plan at the top of 
which Beaver and Gouldings brooks are shown with seven lines 
to indicate small brooks and "slows," as thej' are called, run- 
ning north into the larger brooks. The fii'st is the New and Old 
Meadow brook, which is the Capt. Gilbert Coburn saw mill brook 
which crosses the County road north of the state line. The sec- 
ond is Tony's brook which enters Beaver brook a little west 
of the County road below the stone bridge. The third is Island 
tree pond brook. This is now called Gage's brook, but formerly 
Island Pond brook, and in this plan and other places the word 
tree is found for which no explanation can be given. At the 
place where the highwaj' crosses this brook, "the place where 
the upland meets, ' ' exactly describes this crossing at the present 
time and it is noticeable that the old highways followed the 
high land thus avoiding swamps and meadows. 

Fourth, "the Brooke running westerly out of the Distracted 
meadows into Goldings brooke." These meadows are north of 
Gage Hill, lying in Pelham and Windham, and the brook runs 
into Simpson's pond, then called Ledge of Rocks pond. The 
spruce swamp first mentioned is north of Coburn 's New Meadow 


brook and the Old Meadows and is crossed by the County road 
about half a mile north of the State line. The second spruce 
swamp lies north of Gage Hill road. This describes the road 
as beginning at the former Lyon farm on Sawmill or New 
Meadow brook and forms the present County road to Pelham 
Center until it reaches the Oscar Carlton farm, when it turns 
sharply to the north and again to the east and continues on 
through the Atwood district to Gage Hill. It appears to have 
been an extension and relocation of a road laid out in 1711 to 
the Caldicot and Negus grants. The road leading from this 
highway to "Joseph Varnums meadow" exists only as a right 
of way above the Atwood farms which is used by farmers to 
reach the Goulding Brook meadows. 

The ledge on the road above the first mentioned spruce 
swamp is referred to in Morrison's "History of Windham." A 
family by the name of McAdams recently arrived from Scot- 
land, while on their way to Londonderry, arrived at this ledge 
on Saturday night. In accordance with their principles to do 
no labor or travelling on the Sabbath, they rested here over 
the day and held religious services in the shelter of the ledge. 
This must have occurred about 1740 and their route was prob- 
ably by this same road over Gage hill to the settlements near 
Corbett's Pond. March 25, 1721, a highway was laid out for 
the owners of the Gumpus lots to enable them to reach their 
meadows and to give access to the meadows north of Gage Hill 
from the west of Dracut. It ran easterly from the Gumpus lots 
nearly to Beaver brook, then the record shows that it turned 
northerh' upon a pine plain to a convenient place to make a 
bridge over Beaver brook and then ran "on the north side of 
Collicuts and Golding farm to the meadow on Goldings brook." 
This describes the present road from Gumpus district to Pelham 
Center and northward towards Windham. 

In recording the laying out of the road to Cedar pond, the 
whole record will be given: "March 25, 1721, A highway laid 
out esterly of Belshers Farm then running easterly to Seader 
pond Meadowes on ye north side of ye two Hundred acres 
Laved out for account of ye river Lootes, so running easterly 
on ye south sid of Antonnes Land and Joseph Varnums Land 
below rigge hill turning through Inggoles Land then turning 


north easterle to Seader Pond Meadows" This was what is 
known as the Proprietors road. It is discontinued but used as 
a right of way to reach land not lying on any highway. It is 
south of and running parallel with Marsh Hill road and is 
north of the Dracut reservoir. A part of this road forms the 
road from Marsh Hill to east Dracut. "also anouther road 
Layed out westerly of cheevers and curtises Land so running 
north easterly by William Colbons house Loot to Seader Pond 
Meadows road." 

The road leading past Curtis' land and William Coburn's 
house lot appears to have been what is now a part of Broad- 
way, but as it was relocated in 1736 it cannot be definitely 
located. But as the Curtis' house was later owned by James 
Fox, now the residence of Moses A. Daigle, and the William 
Coburn house lot was in the vicinity of the J. W. Thissell, 
now George R. Fox farm, the road must have been near the 
present one. 

March 25, 1721, "A road laid out in the reserved lands 
lying at the north side of Colburns New Meadows running 
easterly then northerly upon the upland on the west side of 
Ingalls meadow to the lots that lye northward of the Colburns 
new meadows and so running across the southward of the lots 
to Cedar Pond road." Colburn's New Meadows were north of 
Marsh Hill and were south of the lots, so that this must have 
been the present road north of the State line and running 
parallel with Marsh Hill road. It evidently did not reach the 
last named road on Burns ' HiU as at present, but connected with 
the old Cedar Pond road, near the farm formerly owned by 
Franklin C. Wilson. An old road runs thi'ough the woods from 
the Eeuben Richardson farm to this point which was discon- 
tinued to be succeeded by the present one to Burns ' Hill. 

Rigge Hill was probably an esker in this vicinity. The 
way running north from Fox avenue to connect with the Cedar 
Pond road was not the present road which now passes the 
Dracut reservoir but a road parallel with the present one and 
lying on the west of the Worcester, now D. S. Fox farm. As 
alreadj- recorded. Belcher owned the tract west of the farm 
just mentioned. In 1736, he sold a parcel of this land to Hugh 
Jones of Wilmington. It was bounded on the east by a line 


220 rods in length lying on a road. This would extend from 
Pox avenue near the house of Albert N. Fox to a point near 
the house of Eugene C. Fox where it must have connected with 
the Cedar Pond road. No trace of this road exists. 

In 1756 the town voted "to accept of the town way on 
the east side of the land of John Taylor his homestead," which 
was later the Worcester or D. S. Fox farm, for the high way 
that was laid out on the west side of Taylors land, provided, 
"that the said Taylor will give a sufficient security to the 
widow Rebekah Hildreth and her heirs to pass and repass to 
her meadow. ' ' Thus the road laid out in 1736 was discontinued 
and the present one located which was the highway to Lowell 
until the present County road was laid out. In 1788 this old 
road was laid out to reach the new Marsh Hill road nearly 
opposite the David Fox, now Clinton W. Fox house. 

ToTMAN Road 

The old house known as the Blood or Durkee house between 
Varnum avenue and the river stands on an old highway which, 
leading to Webbs Ferry, afterward owned by Edward Coburn, 
must be considered the second oldest road in the town. In 1668, 
the date of Webb 's petition recorded in this chapter, the country 
lying north of this section was a wilderness, but soon the grants 
about the northern part of the present territory of the town 
were settled and Pelham and Londonderry were incorporated. 
All communication with the towns on the south side of the river 
was by way of this ferry and Totman road was the most direct 
way by which these settlers could reach Boston. Little is known 
of the settlement of families on this road and the land border- 
ing on the highway does not appear to have been cultivated 
in earlier years to any extent except in the \'icinity of Varnum 
avenue until it reaches the Nashua road. It was called Zeel 
road, as the home of Barzillai Lew was located there. It thus 
became the great highway for the towns north of Dracut and 
continued so until the laying out of the Mammoth Road. 

The Indians who lived at Pawtucket Falls doubtless fol- 
lowed this course to Long Pond and the settlers later found it 
convenient to use this same Indian trail which was in time the 
highway or, as Richard Hazen in his diary calls it, the ' ' path. 


The Jonas Varnum house, now owned by Mr. Cameron, was 
built when the old road leading from the present Nashua road 
to the Mammoth road was the travelled road, as the front of 
the house indicates, but the locating of the Mammoth road left 
it on an unused road. Over this old road and through Totman 
road the soldiers hurried to the rendevous at the Lexington 
alarm, at the Durkee house, then belonging to Abraham Blood, 
and the level fields about the old house was the training groimd. 
The Osgood house near Charles H. Cutter's, and owned by him 
and the Capt. Peter Coburn house, still standing north of Col- 
linsville, were on old roads which later became parts of the 
Mammoth road. The occupants of the Osgood house would 
reach Clark's ferry by way of the old Meadow road, while Capt. 
Coburn would travel over Totman road to Webbs', afterward 
Coburn 's ferry. The Solomon Abbott house north of Joseph 
Varnum 's, formerly Nat. Varnum 's, would stand on the Indian 
trail leading to Long Pond. 

The Old Meadow Road 

The first settlers were able to obtain only a limited quantity 
of hay in the vicinity of the river. They depended entirely on 
meadow haj', as the raising of hay on the uplands was unknown 
for several j^ears. They located meadows and swamps north 
on New Boston village on Beaver brook, and proceeded to pre- 
pare a cartpath for the transportation of the hay to their barns. 
This was the first road to be used as a highway in the town 
and commenced on Varnum avenue running north and turning 
to the east crossing what is now Mammoth road, near the end 
of the electric car line, it reaches Hampson street and again 
turning north it crossed Beaver brook, near Meadow bridge. 
This was the fordway and the road continued practically as 
at present to the meadows above mentioned. As swampy or 
boggy land was difBeult to cross, long detours were made, which 
accounts for the present crooked road. 

Ferry Lane 

From the first establishment of a ferry near Central bridge 
a way of access across the river from the Center would be re- 
quired. This way existed at a very early date and was known 


as Ferry Lane. It led from the Center through what is now 
known as Aiken avenue to the Hildreth Cemeterj- where it 
connected with the road from Hovey Square and thence through 
Hildreth street to near the house formerly owned by Warner 
Coburn. From this point it ran southwesterly to the river and 
probably on the river bank to the ferry. That portion of the 
way between West Sixth street and Lakeview Avenue is still 
in existence and forms a passageway between the two streets. 
It lies at the south end of what is called Bunker Hill. The 
water main from the pumping station which crosses the bed of 
the river is laid through this lane. There was no public way 
from the Navy Yard village to connect with this lane until 
after a century or more had alapsed, although private ways 
might have existed. As late as 1851, when a part of Central- 
ville was annexed to Lowell and monuments were erected on 
the line that part of Hildreth street was called Ferry Lane. 
What is now Aiken avenue from the stone house easterly to the 
Center was laid out and accepted by the town in 1794. 

The present Hildreth street was laid out in 1735 "from 
the end of Left. Colburn's stone wall by Left [Josiah] Rich- 
ardson's house to Hunts ferry whence we turned down the river 
to a Stake and stones just below the lowest landing place com- 
monly used. Thence turning back up the River in said Rich- 
ardsons land to the side of Wilcassons Brook." An agreement 
was made with Lieut. John Colburn by which he would claim 
no damages from the laying out of the road. Until very recent 
years there was an open brook from Hildreth street near Coburn 
street to Merrimack river, its outlet being above Central bridge 
a short distance. Reference is made to this brook in the chapter 
on "Early Grants." 

It soon became necessary to lay out another highway to 
accommodate the settlers in the eastern part of the town. "Jan. 
6, 1748. A way laid out from the towu way that leads from Rob- 
ert Hildreths Ferry to Ephraim Halls house. Beginning by 
the said town way 2 rods north from Robert Hildreths North- 
west corner of his homestead eastward through Stephen Woods 
land to John Barrons land near the house he purchased of 
Joseph Chamberlain, then eastwardly to the east corner of 
Ephraim Richardsons house, then eastward to the town way 


by Ephraim Halls house to the way that is cleared up nearby." 
This is the present Tenth street and old Methuen road over 
the hill. The Ephraim Richardson house was later the residence 
of Jonathan Fox, now owned by his son, John C. Fox. Ephraim 
Hall lived on the western part of what was later the farm 
owned by the late George Kelley. In 1835, when the cities of 
Lowell and Lawrence were becoming thickly settled, better 
accommodations for communication between them were de- 
manded. To accomplish this Methuen street was opened from 
Seventh street, and, skirting the base of the higher part of the 
hill, it crossed Tenth street and formed the present highway to 
Lawrence. Coburn street was accepted as a public street this 
same year. In 1773, the town voted to lay out a road which is 
now the road through New Boston over Marsh Hill from Col- 
linsville to East Draeut. As it is interesting to know who the 
owners of the land were at that time, a copy of the record is 
given : 

"From Joseph Hambletts mill eastwardly up the hill 
towards Hambletts dwelling house then northerly through Jacob 
Colburns land to John Hambletts land and Joseph Hambletts, up 
the hill to Jonathan Colburns corner, through Timothy Colburns 
land and Jonathan Colburns land to his dwelling house, then 
easterlj' through the path now trod till it comes easterly to 
Jonathan Crosby Jrs house, then running on the southerly side 
of Jonathan Crosbys dwelling house through Crosbys land up the 
hill so easterly in the path now trod through Crosby and Caleb 
Barkers land till it comes out to the town way between said Caleb 
Barkers land and Robert Wrights house, then turning southerly 
up said waj' and thus out of said way into Mr. Jacob Barkers 
land on the northerly side of said Barkers orchard, then through 
Barkers running southeastwardly, then more eastwardly till it 
comes down to the meadow then across the meadow in the line 
between said Jacob and Caleb Barkers to Jacob Barkers land, 
then through Jacob Barkers land to David Fox's land then 
through Pox's land on the southerly side of Fox's orchard to land 
of Ephraim Coburn and others then through said land to John 
Bowers land, still easterlj^ then running through Ephraim Curtis 
land so on to Miles Flint land and between Flint's house and barn 


still running eastwardly through Flint's land and Hugh Jones 
land to Stephen Russells land to a Great Rock on the north side 
of said road, still running easterly on the southward side of said 
Russells House Fraim till it comes to George Burns land then up 
the hill through said Burns land eastward till we come to 
Thomas Taylors land. Then through Thomas Taylors land, 
Timothy Fryes and Benjamin Frenchs land to land of heirs of 
Joseph Chamberlain, through said heirs land to the path north- 
easterly in the said path to John Gilchreas and to the town way 
to Samuel Mansurs." 

The present road over Primrose Hill, reaching the meadow 
road near the Edmund Coburn house, is as at first located. It 
is probable that it crossed the present road and continued east to 
the house formerly owned by John W. Peabody as this was the 
Jonathan Coburn place. The late Sewell Crosby informed the 
writer that a house once stood on this road, now a field, and he 
assisted in filling the cellar. Frequently when plowing this field 
stones were turned out which were worn by wagon wheels. 
Consequently the road now running by Rockwood D. Coburn 's 
house must have been laid out more recently and the old road 
across the field discontinued. The old Crosby house was torn 
down about 1860 and stood near the present one. It was built 
in tlie old one-story style and stood there until the present one 
was erected. Robert Wright's house stood near the corner where 
this road reaches Colburn avenue. David Fox's farm was later 
the Darius L. Fox farm. Miles Flint's house was on or near the 
Peabody farm and Stephen Russell's land was later the Hall 
farm, now owned by Bert A. Cluff. The John Gilchrist house 
was east of Burns' Hill and on the westerly side of the cross 
road leading to Pelham. 

On account of the war of the Revolution, work on the road 
was suspended and it appears to have been finished in sections. 
In 1808, that section from the Fox Farm on Marsh Hill to 
Colburn avenue was completed. In 1737 a road was laid out 
from "Abraham Varnums to Nottingham line." This is the 
present Nashua road from Justus Richardson's to Hudson, then 
called Nottingham "West. Many of the older houses were erected 
before these highways were constructed. The Jonas Varnum 



' ^' ~'* x^ii^^l 



L Aw^ 



(See rage 4->2) 


house near Double brook, later the Cameron farm and the Capt. 
Peter Coburn house both now on the Mammoth road were old 
houses many years before the present highway existed. An old 
highway leads from the Cameron farm to the Nashua road bj' 
which Webb's or Coburn 's Perry at Pawtucket falls could be 
reached, while a road near the old Osgood house led to Clark's or 
Varnum's Ferry. Until recently cellars could be seen near Long 
Pond far from any highway, but there are indications that a path 
led to the Robert Mills or Joseph Varuum houses and this could 
be used by the occupants of the Capt. Peter Coburn house. 
"Clough City," in the northeastern part of the town, is on a 
short road leading from the highway to North Pond. From the 
end of this road, a path, said to have once been a town road, 
leads to the east side of Island Pond past the May place, on 
which one May lived about 1830, and .so northeasterly to Gage 
Hill, a distance of over a mile. 

The New County Road. 

This was laid out about 1828 and led from the New 
Hampshire towns to Central Bridge which had recently been 
built. Some sections of this road had been for many years a part 
of the old stage road and, connected by new sections, formed the 
new County road which is an extension of Bridge street. The 
section from above the swamp, north of the Pelham line, souther- 
ly to Greenmont avenue, was new. From this point to Pleasant 
street an old road had existed which is mentioned in a deed 
covering the site of the Dracut Centre Church building and dates 
back at least to 1786. From Pleasant street to the point where 
Hildreth and Bridge streets meet the street is new, while from 
this point to central bridge it was the old Bradley Ferry road. 
In 1847, Willard street from "Dry Bridge hill" on Bridge 
street to Broadway, leading through the town farm was laid out 
and that part of Broadway from Willard street to Moses Daigle's 
house was also opened probably about this time. The town farm 
buildings were, previous to 1847, in a field at the end of Poor 
Farm Lane, now Arlington avenue, and access to Bradley's 
Ferry was, until this time, by way of a farm road to the northerly 
end of Tenth street. In 1827 the road from the Navy Yard to 
Bradley's Ferry, now Lakeview avenue, was only a footpath, and 


as late as 1837 Sladen street was only a cart path through the 
woods. In 1841 a petition was presented for the opening of a 
road from the Na\y Yard village to Central Bridge. 

Several routes were projected and opposed, and finally 
Sladen street from Pleasant street to Center street (Now 
Lakeview avenue) was laid out. The first proposition was to 
open a street from Simeon Flint's store to Center street. This 
would extend from Brookside street near the bridge at the mill 
and reach to Aiken avenue. The town accepted the street and 
awarded damages but as it would accommodate only a small num- 
ber, it was decided to change the location. Two years later, a 
second one was surveyed, accepted and damages awarded. This 
was where the present street now passes the ear barns and it was 
to be extended north to reach the road to Ames Mills, now 
Lakeview avenue, above the Navy Yard. This was also unsatis- 
factory and the location again changed to the present one, now 
Sladen street and Lakeview avenue. 

At a town meeting held December 22, 1746, the town voted 
to choose a committee to present a petition to the General Court, 
requesting them to confirm "all the ways or roads to the town 
that was laid out by any Committee in said town and not laid 
out by the selectmen of the town. ' ' At the same meeting a pro- 
test was entered by Joseph, Abraham, Samuel. Joseph, Jr., 
Thomas and John Varuum. The reasons for the protest were in 
substance: First, no particular roads or time of location were 
specified. Second, it is not consistent with the honor and dignity 
of the General Court to interfere in such trifling matters. Third, 
it is an injustice to the General Court to act upon things blind- 
fold, uncertain and unintelligible. Fourth, the manner of calling 
the meeting was erroneous. It was called to meet on the 22d of 
December, at 9 o 'clock. It does not state whether the forenoon or 
evening is intended and consequently voters might be prevented 
from attending. The protest was evidently heeded as no further 
action by the town is on record. 

In 1747, the town voted "to accept of a highway four rods 
wide all along by Merrimack river from the upper end of 
Pawtueket upper falls to the lower part of Pawtucket lower 
falls at a place called the lower hole to a stone wall and from 
thence 2 rods wide to the town way that leads from Col. Joseph 


Varnimis house to the meeting house." The same persons who 
had signed the first protest appeared and intimating that the 
action of the town was for promoting the welfare of the few at 
the expense of many entered a protest giving as reasons: First, 
the road, if laid out, did not lead to any particular place, and the 
land was not town property. Second, it was impracticable to make 
the way passable. Third, it was not a convenience or necessity, 
but is prejudicial to the private interests of particular persons. 
Fourth, it would be of great cost and damage to the town. 
Fifth, it had not been requested by any inhabitants of the town 
or presentation of a petition. As there are no traces of a road by 
the river below the Textile School and by the falls we must infer 
that the town heeded the protest and abandoned the project. 

A difference in the manner of locating highways in the 
early days and the present system is noticeable. Swamps and 
hills were avoided and longer distances considered preferable as 
the knowledge of road building was meagre. Yet in some cases 
the road would be carried over almost impassable hills to 
accommodate someone desiring a residence on elevated land and 
teams for many years would travel over these hills until new ones 
with less grade were constructed. The County in the early part 
of the last century, established the principal highways, but re- 
pairs were made by the tovm. Under the present system 
the State and County appropriate money to assist the towns in 
building new roads or repairing those already in use. The build- 
ing of Pawtucket bridge in 1792 and Central bridge in 1825 
caused a marked change in the location of the highways. Until 
this time all roads led to the ferries, but new crossings of the 
river by means of these bridges, demanded new highways. 

In 1792, the Mammoth road as a continuous highway did 
not exist, b\it portions of it called paths were used by the 
earlier settlers. The construction of a direct route to the new 
bridge included many of those old paths which were connected by 
new ones, which together formed the wide highway from the 
towns north of Dracut and so leading to Boston, which was the 
market town for the farmers. The travel over Totman road to 
the ferry was diverted to the new road and the path near Long 
Pond was discontinued. 



The river was a natural barrier which, for many years, 
hindered the settlement of the land on the north side of the river. 
But as farms were laid out and occupied, ferries came into 
existence. For a period of 114 years the only way to cross the 
river was on the ice in the winter season or by ferry boats, when 
the river was open. 

It is difficult to ascertain the exact date when the first ferry 
was established, but occasionally they are mentioned in old deeds. 
At the opening of this chapter reference is made to a road laid 
out by the Selectmen of Chelmsford for the accommodation of 
John Webb. It reached the south side of the river in Middlesex 
village opposite Webb's house. Naturally when the settlers on 
the north of the river had become so numerous as to need an 
established ferry, it would be located at this spot where the 
Durkee, or Old Ferry Road, as it was called, reached the river. 
This was on the land belonging to Edward Colburn, the first per- 
manent settler who had purchased this part of the Webb land, 
and would be used principally by the families of Colburn and 
Varnum. Later, but at a date not ascertained, Capt. Jonas Clark 
of Chelmsford had a ferry lower down the river, at a point near 
the head of the old Middlesex Canal, and just west of the rail- 
road station at Middlesex village. On the Dracut side the land- 
ing must have been near the foot of Bedford street. Capt. Clark 
owned what is now called the Middlesex tavern. In 1759, he 
gave a deed of his farm to his son Timothy, one of the bounds 
being "at the Ferry way called Clark's Ferry now in possession 
of said Jonas and Timothy." It was a chain ferry and wheeled 
vehicles and cattle could be carried across. As the boat was too 
heavy to be propelled by oars, a hea\n,' chain was fastened to the 
bank on each side of the river and passed over a wheel at the side 
of the boat. Grasping the chain and pulling it caused the boat to 
move slowly across. When the ferry was discontinued the chain 
was never removed and now lies in the bed of the river. 

The earliest mention of a ferry at the location of Central 
bridge is found in a deed of conveyance of 100 acres from John 
Colburn to Robert Hildreth, dated January 3, 1735. The land 
laid wholly on the east side of Bridge street from the river 


to Tenth street and one of the bounds was "a black oak at the 
Ferry." In November of the same year a highway was laid out 
from "Lieut. Richardsons house to Mr. Hunts ferry." This was 
Jeremiah Hunt of Billerica who had the privilege of operating a 
ferry across the Concord river and another across the Merrimack. 
The highway was practically what is now the lower end of 
Hildreth and Bridge streets and has been previously described. 
The ferry was known for several years as Hildreth 's ferry, but 
passed to the possession of John White who sold, in 1758, to 
Solomon Abbott of Andover the land and buildings with all rights 
to the ferry. In 1759, Abbott sold a part of the land and one-half 
of the ferry to Daniel Colby, and in 1761, he sold the remaining 
half with 57 acres of laud, with buildings, to Amos Bradley of 
HaverhiU, mentioning the property as purchased of Capt. John 
White. Seven years later Bradley purchased from Colby his half 
of the ferry with 30 acres of land and dwelling house, near the 
river. Bradley 's purchase was long knowTi as the Bradley farm, 
extending eastward from Bridge street to Beacon street and 
from the river to Tenth street. In 1827, Joseph Bradley, son 
of Amos, sold the ferry rights to the Central Bridge Corporation 
for $1,050. Nehemiah Bradley, a brother of Joseph, was ferry- 
man, and travellers coming from the Chelmsford side would 
attract his attention by calling or blowing a horn. 

On the Chelmsford side the lauding was a little below 
Central bridge, where the factories of the Massachusetts 
Corporation now stand. The highway to Pawtucket bridge being 
the present Salem street and the Boston road is now Central 
street. The Dracut landing is still in existence and is located 
on First street, adjoining Varnum park, and until after 1874, a 
legal right-of-way existed on which stands the block at the corner 
of Bridge and First streets. Until that time the buildings were 
situated at a greater distance from the present sidewalk, and 
when the block was erected it was necessary to acquire these ferry 
rights. When the bridge was built, the ferry boat was sold to the 
town of Tyngsboro. where it was used for a conveyance across the 
river until the building of the Tyngsboro bridge, in 1872. It 
was then moored to the shore, but during a flood, the pressure of 
the water caused the chain to break and it floated down the river 
until reaching the falls, it broke in pieces on the rocks. 


References in records of deeds are made to ferries of which 
no traces can be found and which probably refer to the trans- 
portation of individuals across the river, but not for vehicles. 
In the chapter on Reserved Lands, reference is made to Joseph 
Richardson, who purchased land on the river and who owned a 
ferry. This is supposed to have been located a short distance 
west of Amesburj- street, Elsmere, but no further records of its 
location or existence can be found. In 1787 and again in 1791, 
there was a conveyance of property which was located near the 
corner of the Methuen road and Richardson's lane adjoining the 
farm of the late Nathan Thissell, on the west. The land con- 
veyed is described as "on the road from Bradley's ferry to 
Richardson 's f errj- thus .showing that a ferry existed on the river. 

At Varnum's landing, now Belle Grove, a ferry was 
established by the Varnums at a date unknown. This was 
arranged for the carrying of carriages across the river and the 
road from the Varnum houses on Methuen road, leading to the 
ferry, is still in use. This was the place selected by Joseph B. 
Varnum as the site of a new bridge, providing his petition for the 
location of a turnpike had been favorably received to which 
reference will be made in this chapter. The cellar of the ferry 
house is still near Varnum's brook on the east side and a few rods 
from the river. General Simon Coburn, the grandfather of the 
late George B. Coburn, occupied the house and was the ferry- 
man. No traces of the landing remain, but a right-of-way exists 
on the south side of the river on the Hood farm and the roadway 
on the north leading to the ferry may be seen crossed by the car 
tracks of the electric road. 


For nearly a century and a half the only way of crossing the 
Merrimack river was by ferries. Bridges of logs, and fordways 
across Beaver brook, gave means of communication between the 
different parts of the town and allowed the farmers to reach their 
outlying meadows. But as the population of the town increased, 
better accommodations for crossing the river were demanded. 
February 1, 1792, a charter was granted to the Middlesex 
Merrimack River Bridge Corporation. The stock consisted of 
eighty shares and the first meeting was held at the house of Joel 


Spalding. At this meeting, Colonel Loammi Baldwin was elected 
President, Parker Varnum, Clerk, and Colonel James Varnum, 
Treasurer. At that time the bridges in country towns were 
constructed of wood. November 5th, of the same year, the bridge 
was opened for travel and a toll-keeper appointed. The 
Mammoth road, which had been surveyed and some parts opened 
for travel, was now constructed and gave access from New 
Hampshire towns by a more direct way to Boston, the nearest 
market towTi. The names of the original Proprietors are: 

Parker Varnum Solomon Aiken 

James Varnum Samuel Cotton 

Thomas Russell William Hildreth Jr. 

Bradley Varnum Jeptha Spalding 

Jonathan Varnum Josiah Fletcher Jr. 

Benjamin French Peter Coburn, Jr. 

Jonathan Simpson Nathan Tyler 

Louis de Marisquelle Eliakim Wood 

Joseph B. Varnum Daniel Coburn 

Loammi Baldwin Moses B. Coburn 

William Blanchard Asa Richardson 

Joel Spalding Oliver Whiting Jr. 

John Ford Thomas Beals 

Jonathan P. Pollard Ebenezer Hall 

Early in the year 1792, work was commenced on the new 
bridge, and November 5th of the same year, was the date appoint- 
ed for the formal opening to the public. Colonel Loammi Baldwin 
was chosen as purchasing agent and instructed to purchase one 
ton of iron and tM'o barrels of New England rum. The rum was 
exhausted before the iron was, as in two months later he was 
ordered to procure one barrel of rum and at the same time to 
purchase half barrel of W. I. Rum for the proprietors. No 
record can be found of the celebration exercises at the formal 
opening of the bridge, but at a meeting of the proprietors it was 
voted that every one who crossed the bridge that day should be 
treated to flip of toddy. The banks in Boston assisted by loans 
in the pajTuent of bills. Major Hildreth was empowered to 
borrow from the banks the sum of $400, also to purchase one 
barrel of W. I. Rum and one quarter of a hundred of sugar. This 


was probably to be used at a supper or banquet given in honor of 
the completion of the bridge, as an order was given to Col. 
Varnum to provide supper for sixty persons at the expense of 
the proprietors. 

The supports of the bridge were of wood, and as they de- 
cayed the bi'idge became unsafe for travel, and in 1803 it was 
voted to erect stone piers and~abutments, the treasurer to procure 
rum and sugar for the workmen. The removal of the supports 
revealed the roadway also in a state of decay and in 1804 the 
whole structure was rebuilt. In 1807, Major Parker Varnum 
succeeded Col. Baldwin as president, James Varnum was elected 
treasurer and Asahel Stearns, clerk. The success which attended 
the building of Pawtucket bridge, the convenience of crossing the 
river in this manner compared with the uncertainty and delay of 
ferries and the increased value of land which followed the 
erection of the bridge, led to the formation of plans for another 
one to be built at some point lower on the river. A petition was 
presented to the Legislature by Joseph B. Varnum and others 
for permission to build a bridge across the river at the Varnum 
farm, where a ferry was operated known as Varnum 's ferry, to 
which reference has been made, at what is now Belle Grove. A 
bridge had been built at what is now Lawrence and was owned by 
the Andover and Medford Turnpike Corporation. The proprie- 
tors of Pawtucket bridge realized that the existence of another 
bridge would be the cause of the reduction of their income by 
tolls and appointed a committee consisting of Parker Varnum, 
John Ford and Asahel Stearns to confer with a committee from 
the Andover and Medford Company to oppose the petition. This 
petition also included the right to construct a turnpike from New 
Hampshire line to Woburn. The petition was granted but the 
bridge never constructed. 

In 1808, the right to collect the tolls was sold for one year 
for $900 to Ebenezer GrifSn, payment to be made weekly to the 
treasurer of the company. Five years later, in 1813, the incor- 
poration of a new town was proposed. This was to include all 
that portion of Dracut west of a line drawn from the mouth of 
Beaver brook to the state line and all that part of Chelm.sford 
which is now Lowell. In 1807, the bridge company had voted 
' ' to give free passage to all persons to any public meeting at the 


West meeting house in Dracut, '" and this action was continued 
from year to jear. Apparently to encourage the project of a 
new town, the company now voted "to collect no tolls on Sunda3's 
or whenever public meetings were held at the meeting house," 
provided the new town was incorporated. But the opposition 
was too great and the project failed. 

In 1823, Edward St. Loe Livermore, who lived where St. 
John's Hospital now stands, petitioned the Legislature for the 
right to erect a bridge at Hunt 's falls. This was opposed by the 
Pawtucket Bridge Company and the petition refused. The main- 
tenance of the bridge was very expensive, as the wooden supports 
decayed rapidly. In 1817, the part over the main channel was 
rebuilt, and in 1848, the whole structure was renewed, and in 
1849, the original name was abolished and the name Pawtucket 
bridge was substituted. In 1860, the bridge was declared a pub- 
lic highway and purchased of the company for $12,000. Of this 
sum, Dracut paid $2,000, Lowell $4,000 and the County $6,000. 
With the erection of the factories there arose a demand for a 
bridge at Bradley "s ferry ; and on February 24, 1825, a company 
was incorporated consisting of Joseph Bradley, Benjamin F. 
Varnum, Ezekiel Cheever, Abijah Fox, Ezekiel Fox, Peter 
Hazelton and others. These were all Dracut residents. All 
rights in the Bradley ferry were purchased by them and work on 
the bridge commenced. The river at this point is wide and 
deep, even at low water. Instead of building coffer dams and 
laying the foundation on bed rock, cribs were constructed, filled 
with stone and gravel, and sunk, and upon these the piers were 
built. The cost of the bridge, was $21,000 and to furnish an in- 
come to pay expenses and to give the company a revenue, tolls 
were collected from those who crossed afoot, from those who 
crossed with wheeled vehicles and from drivers of cattle. 

According to the Dracut records, the citizens of the town con- 
sidered the amount charged for tolls excessive and brought suit 
against the Central Bridge Company. The directors of the com- 
pany had purchased the Bradley farm and to encourage people 
to buy house lots, agreed to allow all persons living on the land, 
or going to the land on business for the owner, to cross the bridge 
without paying toll. This was probably one cause of the suit 
being brought. This was settled out of court, as on March 4, 1833, 


it was voted, "That our representative suspend all further 
operations in General Court against the property of Central 
Bridge Company provided said proprietors will give them satis- 
factory assurance that said corporation will reduce these tolls to 
the town of Draeut as proposed by the agent of said Corporation, 
to wit : to one half of what said corporation now takes, in case of 
there being half cents these to go to the Corporation." March 
26, 1833, the proprietors voted to comply with the demands of 
Draeut on account of great expense in keeping roads in repair 
leading to and from the bridge on condition that Draeut should 
stop the case against the corporation. Two days later the Legis- 
lature authorized the Central Bridge Corporation to reduce the 
tolls to correspond with those established at Pawtucket Bridge. 
April 1, 1833, the town voted to withdraw the suit, but the 
arrangements were for several years unsatisfactory, for in 1842 
an article was inserted in the warrant, "To see what measures 
the town will take to reduce tolls on Central Bridge and to see if 
town will vote to petition the Legislature to send a committee in- 
vested with power to find amount of money the corporation has 
taken in tolls and by compounding themselves. ' ' 

Dissatisfaction continued to exist between the Bridge Corpo- 
ration and the Town of Draeut, for some years later a committee 
was appointed to prevent the City of Lowell from obtaining the 
rights of Draeut in Central bridge and this committee was 
authorized to demand their books and call for persons and papers 
or petition the Legislature to appoint a committee to call upon 
the corporation for persons or papers for the purpose of ascertain- 
ing the amount now due said corporation for said bridge. The 
difSculty was finally settled and the rights of Draeut protected. 

In 1 843, the collection of tolls for pedestrians was abolished. 
The land in the vicinity of the bridge was owned by the Bridge 
Corporation and to encourage its sale no toll was collected from 
those who resided on this land. The charge for crossing became 
burdensome and to avoid the payment of it the farmers would 
leave their teams on the Draeut side and walk across, causing 
a diminution of the receipts in the treasury. The toll house 
stood on what is now Varnum Park, near the old ferry landing, 
and a gate which was thrown across the street enabled the ferry- 
man to detain the passengers until the toll was paid. When 


built the bridge had no covering, but in 1849 sides and roof were 
added. During the later years of its existence teams were not 
allowed to cross it at a speed greater than a horse would walk. 
In 1855, the city of Lowell declared the bridge to be a public 
highway and awarded the corporation one dollar in payment for 
it. The company refused to accept the award and a suit was 
instituted against the citj* and the case was before the court seven 
j-ears before a settlement could be effected. It resulted in a 
verdict for the plaintiff and the sum of $33,958.51 was awarded, 
the amount of Draeut's share being $7,865. 

The annexation of Centralville to Lowell in 1852 and of 
Pawtucketville in 1874 relieved Dracut of further expense in 
the maintenance of these two bridges. As a bridge over which 
there is travel between towns and cities requires to be kept in 
repair and is used largely by surrounding towns, a part of the 
expense of repairs is borne by the Countv' but in earlier years 
the towns were taxed directly for their proportional part. The 
bridge over the Concord at Billerica was on the main thorough- 
fare to Boston and before the introduction of steam roads was 
the principal place of crossing for the towns in this vicinity. It 
was built in 1699 and the taxpayers of the part of Chelmsford, 
now Dracut, contributed to the payment of the cost of building. 
The expense of maintaining a wooden bridge at this place was 
heavy, and while borne principally by Billerica the town re- 
ceived assistance from Groton, Westford, Chelmsford, Dunstable 
and Dracut. The people of Dracut objected to giving further 
assistance, and in 1737, the town was declared exempt from 
contributing more money. A record on the town books shows 
that on May 22, 1738, it was voted to pay John Varmim the 
sum of £6 "for his servis and Expenses In Gitting the Town 
free from Charg of Billirica Bridg." 

There are three bridges across Beaver brook which have 
existed since about the time of the incorporation of the tovra. 
The falls at the Navy Yard and Collinsville to some extent de- 
cided the location, as saw and gristmills were erected at these 
places. Meadow bridge, above the paper mill, accommodated 
the farmers who wanted to reach their meadows and, though 
used as a fordway, a bridge was needed. No records are found 
of the building of the bridge at the Navy Yard village known 


as Stanley's bridge, but in 1855 the present stone bridge replaced 
the former one of wood, the town appropriating $1,000 for this 

At the annual meeting of the town held in February of this 
present year (1920), the sum of $5,000 was appropriated for 
the purpose of widening the bridge. The bridge, when built in 
1855, was of siifficient width to accommodate the traffic, but as 
the mill was later enlarged and buildings erected for family use, 
there came a demand for the bridge to be widened to correspond 
with the width of the highway. Two years later the bridge at 
Collinsville was rebuilt also of stone. The funds for the pur- 
pose were received from the United States treasury. At this 
time all towns received from the Government a share of what 
was known as "surplus revenue." Meadow bridge was until 
1909 a wooden structure, but in that year the town rebuilt it 
with cement at an expense of $500. 

The only public iron bridge is at Parker avenue below tlie 
site of the paper mill, and was erected by Percy Parker, but is 
kept in repair at the expense of the town. The construction of 
the electric railroad between Lowell and Lawrence was the 
occasion of building new bridges across Richardson and Varnum 
brooks. In 1802, a petition was presented to the Coimty Com- 
missioners for a bridge, across the Merrimack at Deer Jump, 
but the town opposed it and the project was abandoned. Tyngs- 
boro bridge now crosses the river between Lowell and Nashua, 
but no bridge between Lowell and Lawrence exists. 

The Turnpike Between Boston and Canada 

Reference has been made to a project to build a bridge which 
should cross the Merrimack near Varnum 's Ferry. At this 
period there was no means of transportation on land known or 
contemplated which should supersede the ox teams and conse- 
quently the minds of the people were directed to the improve- 
ment of existing highways or the creation of new ones. All 
roads led to Boston and the produce from the farms of this state 
and New Hampshire was sent to that market ; and very naturally 
the most direct routes were sought. The bridge at Lawrence 
and the one at Pawtucket falls were the only ones in existence 
and as neither one followed a direct course to Canada which 


would be of benefit to the farmers and small manufacturing 
villages which had come into existence, a new route was surveyed 
which would start from Medford reaching Dracut bj' way of 
Varnum's falls. The proposed route may be found, approxi- 
mately, by drawing a line from Medford and, as stated in the 
petition, passing through that part of Dracut known as Burns' 
Hill, continuing through Pelham, N. H., a short distance east 
of the Centre and crossing Goulding's brook it would follow the 
Merrimack River northerly towards its termination. A third 
of a century must elapse before steam roads were introduced 
and consequently the tolls received on the turnpike roads and 
the bridges were a factor in inducing their multiplication. The 
citizens of the towns lying on the route in this state were to a 
great extent heartily in favor of the enterprise and it was also 
favorablj' received in New Hamp.shire. A copy of the petition 
is here presented : 


To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives 
assembled humbly show your petitioners. 

That the increasing population of this state. New Hampshire, 
Vermont and the British Province of Lower Canada renders it 
highly important that a road should be opened on the most direct 
and practicable route from Boston, the capital of this state, 
to the river St. Lawrence, passing by the east end of Missique 
bay: it would render the communication betwixt Boston and 
Canada easy, and reciprocally advantageous: it would facilitate 
the transportation of produce from the interior to Boston, and 
very much increase the mutual interest of town and country. 
A direct line from Medford meeting house to Concord, New 
Hampshire, is found by actual survey, to cross Merrimack river 
between Deerjump Falls and Varnums Falls about a quarter 
of a mile from each; upon a critical examination of the ground 
from Boston to New Hampshire line on and near the said route 
it is conceived the practicable place to build a Bridge across 
Merrimack river is at Varnum Falls. That place is situated to 
favor laying the road on the best grounds of travel on or near 
the said route both in this state and New Hampshire. Your 
petitioners therefore request your Honors to pass an act of in- 


corporation, and granting to such of us, and others, as may asso- 
ciate for that purpose, liberty to make a Turnpike Road from 
the country road a little east of the house of William Nieholls, 
late of Woburn, on the most direct and practicable ground, 
through the north part of "Woburn, through Wilmington, Tewks- 
bury and a small corner of Andover, to Varnums Falls in Merri- 
mack river and from thence through Draeut to New Hampshire 
line, at land formerly owned by John Gilcreast or by George 
Burns deceased on the principles prescribed by the general 
act for regulating turnpike incorporations within this common- 
wealth, & to build a bridge across Merrimack river at Var- 
nums Falls in the direction and for the accommodation of 
travellers on such Turnpike Road, as may be granted as afore- 
said, under such regulations, and with the privilege of demand- 
ing and receiving such toll as may by your honors be judged just 
and equitable. 

J. B. Varnum and others 
Moses Whiting and others 
Jacob Coggin and others" 

In the Senate June 8*"^ 1807. Ordered that the petitioners 
advertise their petition in the Independent Chronicle and Salem 
Register three weeks successively. Hon. Jonathan Maynard, 
Jonas Kendall, Walter McFarland, John Spurr, and Samuel 
Flagg a committee at petitioners ' expense to look over the ground 
and make return at next session of the present general court. 
This committee instructed to meet Tuesday 7 July 1807 at house 
of Abijah Thompson, innholder, Woburn. 

It is safe to conclude that this committee met as ordered 
and proceeded to the examination of the route and the feasibility 
of granting the petition, for it is recorded that "The Committee 
of both houses to whom was referred the petition &c Report that 
the petitioners have leave to bring in a bill for the purpose 
prayed for ' ' 

But with all the advantages which would be derived from 
the establishment of the road, the business was not to proceed 
without opposition. The stockholders of the Pawtucket Bridge 
Company foresaw a diminution in their receipts for tolls, as a 
great part of travel would be diverted to the more direct route 


and the farmers at the west part of the town would fmd the 
eastern part reaping advantages upon which they had built 
their hopes when the Mammoth road became the accepted high- 
way. To oppose the granting of the petition a counter petition 
was presented. In this petition, a copy of which is inserted, it 
will be seen that the parties presenting it were too shrewd to 
intimate the real reason for opposing it, but place emphasis on 
the fact of the obstructions which would interfere with the 
rafting of logs and heavy timber. These were reasonable objec- 
tions as, while the Pawtueket falls were avoided by a canal from 
the Merrimack to the Concord rivers, which is still in existence 
to convey water, there still remained the rapids of Hunt's and 
Varnum's falls which were below the canal. 

Copy of Petition 

"To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the 

Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

The Memorial and Remonstrance of the subscribers humbly 

That your remonstrants contrary to their expectation, have 
been informed that a Committee of your honorable body have 
determined to report in favor of granting the prayer of the 
petitioners for a Bridge to cross Merrimae river at or near 
Varnums Falls between the town of Dracut and Andover. And 
as we are well acquainted with the said River and are much 
engaged in the rafting business we feel deeply interested in 
the free and unobstructed passage through. 

We therefore beg leave to state to your honors, that the 
current of the said River for a considerable distance above the 
place proposed for the said bridge is verj- rapid so that it would 
be extremely difScult managing a heavj- raft of wood or timber, 
so as to pass a bridge in that place without very great hazard 
and danger. And from the alteration of the current occasioned 
by the rise and fall of the said River it becomes necessary to 
vary the course of the rafting; so that if a bridge were to be 
erected with the abutments and piers so arranged as to make the 
passage most safe and convenient in high water, that would 
greatly obstruct the rafting in low water. While on the other 
hand if a Bridge were to be so constructed as to be the least im- 


pediment in low water that construction would be equally in- 
jurious to the business in high water. In addition to which we 
beg leave to observe that Hunt's falls, which is a long and dan- 
gerous rapid is but a small distance above the place of the pro- 
posed Bridge, and that in passing that rapid in high water, our 
rafts ai-e often so much shattered and injured as to become un- 
manageable; and as there is in high water no opportunity to 
stop and repair until we have passed Varnums fall we often 
experience great difficulty and danger in passing said falls in 
their present situation. And from a perfect knowledge of this 
business in which we are employed almost the whole of the 
rafting season, we can state with confidence that it is impossible 
so to construct a bridge in this place as not to greatly obstruct, 
if not entirely ruin, the rafting business on the said River 
which is at present difficult and hazardous as well as expensive. 
And from the difficulty we experience from the obstructions 
already erected on the said River we are of opinion that the 
building another at this place would be ruining the business of 
rafting wood and heavy lumber. 

On the whole we beg leave to observe that we cannot think 
that the building of a bridge on this place would be so great a 
benefit to one class of citizens as to compensate for the injury 
it would occasion to another ; nor can we believe that the public 
interest requires that the rafting business should be sacrificed to 
the small public accommodation which would arise to a few 
from granting the prayer of the said petition." 

The influence of the opposition was sufficient to delay action 
by the Legislature for three years, but in 1810, the petition was 
granted and the safety of the pedestrians and vehicles was se- 
cured by adopting measures which provided for sufficient width, 
strength of material, guard rails. The navigation of the river 
was also considered and due allowance made for the passage of 
boats and rafts. But after all the work of surveying, petitioning 
and presentation of facts for and against the enterprise, the 
great turnpike never was constructed. Perhaps the reasons why 
it failed will never be known, but among them may be found 
the condition of the country at that time. These were the years 
which preceded the second war with England and there was great 


<See Page 388) 


uncertainty regarding the future which discouraged the invest- 
ment of capital. Another reason might be that when first pre- 
sented the farmers, through whose land the route lay, might at 
first be so strongly in its favor that they would be willing to 
release a right-of-way without compensation, but later they 
would lose enthusiasm and value their land too high for the com- 
pany to purchase. If this project had been carried to com- 
pletion the arrangements of the highways would have been of a 
nature that all routes would have been to Pawtucket and 
Varnum's bridge, as the new one would probably be called. 
Central bridge would not have been built for a highway but in 
later years, when East Chelmsford became Lowell and the erec- 
tion of factories demanded more room, homes for the operatives, 
a bridge would have been built by the corporations but probably 
nearer the present Aiken bridge site. From a list of the most 
active of those who favored the movement a few names of 
Dracut citizens are shown: Joseph B. Varnum, Simon Coburn, 
Samuel Baile.y, James B. Hildreth, Caleb Blanchard, Benjamin 
Stevens, Jacob Coburn, David Jones, David Jones, Jr., Ben- 
jamin Coburn, Samuel Richardson, Jacob B. Varnum, Daniel 
Varnum, Peter Harris, Thaddeus Richardson. These men were 
residents of the part of the town through which this road would 
have been constructed, while quite naturally, the remonstrants 
were located in the west part of the town. 


THE burial places of the early settlers of Dracut are un- 
known. It was the custom to bury the bodies in some re- 
tired spot on the farm and the graves were seldom marked. 
Sometimes a flat stone from the field, with initials and date of 
death rudely cut on it, would be placed at the head of the grave, 
but when broken and the grave levelled by the elements the place 
would be forgotten. 

"Each in his narrow cell forever laid 
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep." 
{Gray's Elegy) 

The oldest burial groimd in the Dracut of early days, but 
now in Lowell, is between Varnum avenue and the Boulevard 
about fifty rods east from the Durkee road and east of the 
Colburn garrison house, and although the first to be located 
which continues in existence, no very old headstones are to be 
seen. In 1765, Rev. Thomas Parker was buried here, but in re- 
cent years his body was removed to the Woodbine cemetery. 
Headstones mark the graves of Colburns of at least the third 
generation, as the graves of the earlier ones are unknown. There 
are also headstones marking the graves of those whose names are 
not connected with Dracut history, and several unmarked graves. 
It is unprotected by a fence, although a lot belonging to some 
family is protected by posts and chains. A cart path from Var- 
num avenue leads to it. On the west there are unmarked graves 
in which are buried the colored people who lived in this neigh- 

The Woodbine cemetery is near Varnum avenue on the Old 
Meadow road. It is the burial place of the families who were 
the residents of that part of the town before annexation, and is 
well cared for and has shade trees and bank wall. It was a part 
of the Col. Ansart farm and at his death he was buried here. In 
1880, the remains of Rev. Thomas Parker were removed to this 
cemetery, as already stated, and an account of his ministry is to 


be found in the chapter relating to the churches of Dracut. The 
grave is marked by a slab of dark colored stone of the same kind 
as those used in place of the earlier field stone and which was fol- 
lowed by granite and marble of the present day. On this head- 
stone are chiseled the features of a man, also a part of a gown 
and bands, showing that his calling was that of a minister. Un- 
derneath this is an elaborate epitaph : 

Momento mori 
Under this stone is Interred ye Remains of ye 
Revd. Thomas Parker 
A gentleman of shining mental Powers Adorned with 
Prudence, Benevolence & Curtesie of maners. 
A warm & Pathetic Preacher of ye Gospel A 
Most watchful and tender Pastor of ye Church 

In Dracut for ye space of 44 years. 

Accomplished with learning Human & Divine 

& endowed and adoi-ned by ye social virtues 

& affections, who departed this life March IS'^, 1765 

in the 65"^ year of his age. 

A cemetery is known to have existed near the first meeting 
house which, as stated in another chapter stood on Varnum ave- 
nue nearly opposite the eastern end of the hill on which the 
Lowell General Hospital now stands. The early settlers followed 
the custom of their English ancestors and buried their dead in 
the church yard, the graves being located near the building and 
on each side of the path. No traces of this cemetery remain and 
the records, if ever kept, are destroyed, but these facts are known 
from the statements of those who have seen the graves. An old 
cemetery was located on the eastern side of the Mammoth road 
north of Justus Richardson 's. Headstones could be seen in recent 
years, but the site is now occupied by an orchard. 

The Pawtucketville cemetery on Mammoth road is of more 
recent date, the oldest headstone being that of Asa Coburn, who 
died February 8, 1800. There are two family tombs, that of 
Capt. Phineas Whiting, built in 1815; the other of David and 
Capt. "William Blood, built in 1819. Here is buried Capt. John 
Ford who was present at the battle of Bunker Hill and who died 


in 1822. There are other Revolutionary soldiers buried here, but 
as a burial place it is discontinued as the lots are all occupied. 

The Oakland cemetery is the burial place of the people of 
Collinsville. It is situated about a mile from the village and 
away from the Mammoth road a short distance. It is well cared 
for as it is in the keeping of an incorporated company composed 
of the residents of the village and others interested. The Var- 
nums and Clements, who were among the earliest settlers of this 
part of the town, are buried here ; also Peter Coburn, who com- 
manded a company of Dracut men at Bunker Hill on the memor- 
able 17th of June, 1775. Several of the members of this same 
company also find this their last resting place. This is the burial 
place of Admiral Eaton and his wife, both descendants of the 
Varnums. On a knoll adjoining and a little to the north of the 
cemetery is the burial place of the older residents of the village. 
There are no headstones, and while the names of those buried are 
unknown, they were probably the earlier settlers of this vicinity. 
One headstone, which is a common flat stone, remains with the 
letters roughly cut in 

I A 

RC 4 


Whatever was originally on the stone has been obliterated by 
storm and frost. A few years ago the writer found a headstone 
marked N C, but it has disappeared. These are the initials of the 
name Nathaniel Clement who lived here and so may have marked 
his grave. As his son, Daniel, served in the Revolution, it is pos- 
sible that this ground was in existence and the stone might mark 
his father's resting place. If so, it is reasonable to suppose that 
the other graves were those of the early Coburns and Varnums. 
There are thirty-six of these graves neatly arranged in rows and 
level with the top of the ground. They are easy to distinguish, 
as each is covered with cobble stones which protected them from 
the wolves. 

The Hildreth cemetery, by reason of annexation, is now 
within the limits of the City of Lowell. The title of ownership 
remains in possession of Dracut, but like other real estate, when 
annexation occurs, the city obtains no fee in the soil but acquires 
certain rights not before enjoyed. The cemetery was presented 


to the town by Major Ephraim Hildreth, who became a resident 
of the town in 1709 and whose headstone is the oldest in the 
cemetery, his death occurring in 1740. In 1752, his sons con- 
firmed the verbal gift of their father by a deed as follows : 

"Dracut, November 17, 1752. 
We, the subscribers, being ^^'illing to confirm our Honored 
fathers Promis Varbally made Relating to the During place Now 
in Use in Dracutt, to which Track of land there hath, as yet. 
Been no titel, we therefore conferm the same by the following 
Record. Said Track of land being Bounded as followeth. 
Bounded Esterly by the Highway Leading to Robart Hildreth 
Ferrey, the north and east corner is a stak and stones by said 
Road : Thens Runing Westerly Eight Rods and a half to a Stak 
and stone, Thens Runing Southerly Nine Rods to a stake and 
stones by the said Highway: the above mentioned sd Track of 
Land is and is to remain a buring Place For the Town of Dracutt, 
and in Testimony of the above Record being and Remaining a 
good and fairm Titel to the Town of Dracutt of the abovesaid 
Track of Land, \re have hereunto set our hands the Daj' above 

Ephraim Hildreth 
William Hildreth 
Elijah Hildreth" 

The thoughtfulness of these men has given to the town pos- 
session of a tract of land which, but for this writing, might have 
been to the town the cause of much litigation. The first settlers 
of the Hildreth family were buried on the top of the knoll where 
their headstones may be seen, but later an additional lot on the 
west side has been enclosed and reserved for the use of the family. 
This cemetery is the burial place of many of the men who fought 
in the Revolution, among them Capt. Stephen Russell, who died 
in 1800, hut the exact location of the grave is unknown. It is 
thought to have been westerly of the Samuel Fox lot. The head- 
stone of Lieut. Abraham Coburn, who died in 1797, may still be 
seen near the street, also that of Capt. Ezekiel Hale, near the 
center of the cemetery, which has been enlarged in recent years 
by an addition on the south which includes the site of the second 
schoolhouse in District No. 5. 


The burial ground at the Navy Yard village, called the Ham- 
blet or Garrison House cemetery, was at first the family burying 
place of the Varnums who lived at the Garrison house. A very 
quaint headstone and the most ancient in the lot is that of Mrs. 
Ruth, wife of Colonel Joseph Varnum, who died November 28, 
1728. Her husband was a son of Samuel Varnum, who came 
from Ipswich and purchased land in Draeut in 1664. He is prob- 
ably buried here, but his grave is not marked. His death occurred 
in 1749. The earlier families of Goodhues, Bowers, and Coburns 
are buried here. Deacon Theodore Hamblet enlarged the enclos- 
ure when he was the owner of the Varnum farm, and it is in the 
care of the town. Cemetery Commissioners are appointed every 
year at the annual meeting to keep the burial places of the town 
in proper condition and money is appropriated for the purpose. 
A part of this ground is mentioned in the will of Joseph Butter- 
field Varnum who died in 1858. It does not include the burial 
place of the earlier residents, but is instead an addition to pro- 
vide a place for future burials. The following is found in the 
county records: "I give and bequeath to the town of Draeut a 
certain piece or parcel of land north of the old burying place near 
Theodore Hambletts to be )\y them always kept in order and suit- 
ably fenced and to be used only as a burying ground, bounded 
as follows, beginning at the North "West corner at the old Bury- 
ing Ground and rimning seven rods to a stake and stones thence 
at or nearly at right angles five and a half rods on land of J. B. 
Varnum to a stake and stones, and thence again at a right angle 
or nearly a right angle five and one half rods to the point of be- 

At a town meeting following Mr. Varnum 's death in 1858, 
it was voted, ' ' to accept of the donation made to the town by the 
late Joseph B. Varnum of a piece of land for burying the dead 
and comply with the conditions of the will." 

The Varnum cemetery is on a part of the land known as 
Primes Purchase, it being the sixteenth lot laid out on the river 
below Hunt's falls in the Reserved lands. It lies on the cross 
road which connects the upper and lower roads leading from 
Draeut to Methuen and is near the Varnum homestead. It 
was set apart by Samuel Varnum, a grandson of the Samuel 
who came from Ipswich, for the use of the Varnum and 


neighboring families. Many of the Parkers, Coburns and 
Kichardsons of earlier years are buried here. The most con- 
spicuous headstone is one erected to the memory of Gen. 
Varnum a son of the Samuel, who first settled in this vicinity. 
The inscription iu full is : 

"Erected in memory of Hon. Joseph Bradley Varnum 
whose life was a series of public acts rendering the most impor- 
tant services to his county in offices of honor and trust sustained 
in the Town, State and Nation. At the age of 18 he was chosen 
captain and held that position during the Revolutionary War 
and until he was elected Colonel in 1787. In 1802 he was chosen 
Brigadier General and in 1805 Major General which office he held 
until his death. Prom 1780 to 1795, he was a member of the 
House of Representatives and Senate of Mass. and a member of 
the Convention that framed the Constitution in 1780 and of that 
which revised it in 1820 ; and from 1795 to 1817 a member of the 
House of Representatives and Senate of the United States during 
which time he was Speaker of the House 4 years and President 
of the Senate 1 year. He died in full hope of immortality Sept. 
11, 1821 at the age of 70 years." 

The headstone erected to the memory of his wife, jMrs. Molly 
Butler Varnum, has an inscription relating to her many virtues : 

' ' Erected to the memory of Mrs. Molly Varnum widow of the 
Hon. Joseph B. Varnum who died April 17, 1833 aet 82 years 
10 mos and 2 days. ' She riseth also while it is yet night and giv- 
eth meat to her household and a portion to her maidens.' 'Her 
children arise up and call her blessed, her husband also and he 
praiseth her.' 'Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her 
paths are peace.' 'Strength and honor are her clothing and she 
shall rejoice in time to come'." 

The cemetery at East Dracut is under the supervision of the 
town. It is composed of two divisions, one on each side of the 
highway. That part which is situated on the main road contains 
many old headstones from which we conclude that a burial place 
was set apart soon after the settlement of that part of the town. 
The enclosure became too small to accommodate the families in 
that vicinity and another lot was added and devoted to burials. 
This is an elevated spot, sloping to the south. 


The cemetery at New Boston village is on the farm which, 
during the Revolution, was owned by Jonathan Coburn and late- 
ly by John W. Peabody. For many years it was not enclosed and 
was used by the people of the village for a burial place. No deed 
was given by Mr. Coburn and when, in 1836, the farm came into 
possession of David Reed, he claimed the cemetery as a part of 
the farm. The people of vicinity formed an association and pur- 
chased the land, the conditions being the payment of five dollars 
and the erection of a stone wall. There are several Revolution- 
ary soldiers buried here, including the brothers Saul and 
Thaddeus Coburn, John Bowers and Elijah Coburn. 


Dracut was the home of a goodly number of men who have 
chosen the profession of medicine. The earlier ones were satis- 
fied to spend their lives and perform their duties within the limits 
of the town, but those of later years have found a larger field of 
labor in the cities which have come into existence. The life of a 
country doctor was one of hardship and the duties exacting. The 
homes of his patients were in all parts of the town and his services 
were often in demand in neighboring towais, and it was his duty 
to visit them whatever the condition of the weather, at any time 
by night or day, with roads often blocked with snow or deep with 
mud. The faithful family doctor was loved and respected by the 
older members of the family and held in awe by the younger. His 
patient horse was as well known as his master, who became a fa- 
miliar figure as he rode through the town with his saddle bags 
filled with medicines and instruments, for he must be acquainted 
with the science of surgery and dentistry as well as with medi- 

There were no specialists in those days and the doctor must 
be prepared to relieve pain, and administer medicine for all dis- 
eases. As already stated, he travelled about on horseback, as 
wheeled vehicles were almost unknown until after the Revolution, 
for proof of this we learn that when Col. Ansart lived in Dracut, 
he owned a chaise which caused everybody to stare in wonder 
when he rode out. It must have been an agreeable change for 
the doctor when he was able to discard the saddle and employ the 


chaise, which was a two-wheeled vehicle hung on leather thor- 
ough-braces and capable of carrying two or more people. 

The first physician in point of time was Dr. Samuel Coburn, 
whose father was Ezra, a younger son of Edward, the first settler 
in town. He was born in Dracut, September 18, 1684. His 
home was on the north side of what is now Varnum avenue, a 
short distance above the building formerly used for the district 
school. Of the events of his life there is no record, but a notice 
of his death is found in the Genealogy of the Colburn-Coburn 
families : ' ' We hear from Dunstable that yesterday was fortnight 
after the death of Deacon Perham a very old Man. One Mr. 
Coburn of Dracut, a man about 60 years of age, who had been 
Bearer to the Deacon and assisted in carrying the Corps returned 
with the rest of the Company and to all appearance as hearty, 
hale, fresh and strong as any of them was Struck with Death in 
an Instant, He dropt to the Earth like a Log and expired in less 
than five minutes." (Boston News-Letter, January 6, 1757.) 

It is difficult, in the absence of records to state positively who 
succeeded him. The supposition is that it was Dr. James 
Abbott, as his marriage to Lydia, daughter of Joseph Coburn of 
the fourth generation, occurred in 1758 and they settled in 
Dracut where occurred the births of twelve children. He lived 
on a farm at Collinsville and the farmhouse stood on the Mam- 
moth road, opposite the tenements of the American Woolen Co. 
It was later the home of the Hamblet family and was removed a 
few years ago. Dr. Abbott 's name appears on the Roll of Honor 
as Surgeon's Mate. There is no record of the date of his death, 
but his successor was Dr. Amos Bradley, who, in 1785, com- 
menced his duties as physician. When a boy, he lived on his 
father's farm, but later chose this profession. In "The physi- 
cians of Lowell and Vicinity," by D. N. Patterson, M. D., refer- 
ence is made to him: "He made his daily tour of professional 
visits through the town and surrounding country on horseback. 
When in the saddle he wore a pair of felt leggings to prevent his 
trousers from being soiled by the mud or dust of the road. In 
their accustomed place he carried the ever memorable saddle 
bags, which when opened at the bedside of the sick, revealed a 
medley of well filled phials of medicine, various instruments and 
other paraphernalia of his profession." The circuit over which 


for so many years he travelled in the discharge of his profession- 
al duties has been described and is here quoted. ' ' After leaving 
his house, which was at Hovey square, immediately north of the 
Blanehard Hospital, he made his calls in the immediate vicinity 
and crossing the river at Bradley's ferry into that part of 
Chelmsford now Lowell he continued his journey through Middle- 
sex, North Chelmsford and Tyngsboro where he would recross 
the river by Tjmg's ferry, thence he would proceed through the 
north western part of Dracut to Pelham, N. H., returning to his 
home by the turnpike road through that section of Dracut known 
as 'Black North.' He was highly respected and had a large 
circle of friends." His death occurred May 6, 1817, at the age 
of 58. 

At the death of Dr. Amos, his duties were assumed by his 
son. Dr. Peleg Bradley, who for many years had practiced with 
his father and was in company with him four years before Dr. 
Amos' death. Dr. Peleg lived to see the birth of Lowell and its 
remarkable growth as his death occurred in 1848, at the age of 
56. His professional visits included the towns already men- 
tioned, to which were added Methuen, Andover, Billerica and 
Tewksbury, but as the population increased he removed to Lowell, 
where he spent his later years and much of his country practice 
was assumed by other physicians. His medicines were purchased 
in Boston, but he manufactured his own pills and plasters. His 
fees were small compared with those of the present day, viz., 
office calls with advice and medicine, twenty-five cents; visits, 
fifty cents. He was a skillful physician, ready to adopt new 
methods and to forsake the beaten path if by so doing he could 
advance the science of medicine. His son, William Henry, was 
born in Dracut, February 11, 1824, and succeeded his father as 
a practicing physician. His practice was principallj^ in Lowell 
and surrounding towns, but he removed to the West after serving 
as surgeon in the Civil War and died at St. Louis, Mo. 

Israel Hildreth was born in 1791, one year before the birth 
of Peleg Bradley and their professional Ufe covered nearly the 
same period. Choosing for his life work the profession of medi- 
cine, he studied with Dr. Thomas of Tyngsboro and Dr. Wyman 
of Chelmsford, afterward attending a course of lectures in 
Boston. The duties of a country doctor were shared with Dr. 


Bradley as the increase of population, about the year 1825, 
caused by the erection of cotton mills, demanded the services of 
two physicians. In common with the other doctors of the time 
he was ready with the knife and saw for amputation or the for- 
ceps to remove an aching tooth. He had a broad mind, ever 
ready to accept new methods and his cheerful disposition made 
him welcome in the sick room. Before his death the occupation 
of country doctor liad ceased to exist. Dr. Bradley had removed 
to Lowell and Dr. Hildreth spent the remaining years of his life 
on his farm in Dracut. He was the last of the Dracut doctors 
and the jogging horse and thoroughbrace chaise remain only as a 

En common with other towns, scenes of violence have per- 
formed their part in the history of Dracut. As its southern line 
was the Merrimack river, Beaver Brook flowing through its entire 
length and bordering on several ponds the opportunities for 
deaths caused by drowning were many. Deaths caused bj- stroke 
of lightning, falling from buildings when in process of erection 
and other causes all contributed to furnish scenes of tragedy. 
There are those to whom the cares of life were a burden and who 
chose to appoint a time when it should cease. Only a few cases 
are on record where a Life has been taken by the hand of another. 
In 1858, a blacksmith, Joshua Heath by name, lived in the north- 
east part of the town, near the Pelham line. His wife was dead 
and with a son and daughter, he lived remote from neighbors, 
deriving a small income from the exercise of his trade in which 
he excelled, especially in the manufacture of knives. The chil- 
dren were deficient in intelligence, the daugliter being almost 
idiotic and the son weak in intellect. Unable to reason correctly 
although possessing that peculiar quaUty of craftiness so com- 
mon in the mentally deficient, they considered their father to be 
a burden and planned to take his Life. Their first attempt was 
to administer to him a dose of tea prepared from apple peru, a 
poisonous plant, which was not sufficient to cause his death, al- 
though it stupefied him. While in this condition they loaded a 
musket with scraps of iron and discliarged it with fatal effects, 
then digging a shallow grave in the blacksmith shop they buried 
him. Parties who came to have work performed found the shop 


locked and could get no information from the son and daughter, 
but from facts gathered by questioning the girl they found the 
body partially covered with dirt. The authorities were notified 
and the son arrested, the trial resulting in a sentence to state 
prison for life whei-e as time passed on he became the oldest 
prisoner in the institution. The daughter was taken to the town 
farm, but her physical condition was such that she lived but a 
short time. 

Gordon, in his "Early Grants," says: "The husband of one 
of the Colburn girls, Richardson by name, was killed by a blow 
of his opponents fist in a brawl ; and I find no indictment based 
on this lamentable scuffle." In the vital records, a young son of 
Benjamin and Clarissa Bradley, named William, was killed by 
being kicked by a horse ; this occurred in 1823, the family lived 
at the Navy Yard village near the mill. In 1789, Aaron, son of 
Eleazer and Bridget Coburn, aged 21 years, was "suddenly killed 
by the fall of a tree." In 1744, Henry Colburn was killed "by 
a fall of a fraime at a Raising." In 1825, George Washington, 
son of Jonathan and Mercy Richardson was killed by falling 
from a building. Obadiah, son of Asa and Elizabeth Parker, 
was killed by being struck by lightning when engaged in mowing 
for a farmer in Tewksbury. 

In 1867, Dea. Reuben Coburn was killed by falling from an 
apple tree. He lived in the brick house at the foot of Tanhouse 
hill. About 1870, two men lost their lives while digging a well 
at the Navy Yard village. Mr. Pierce, who lived in Maine, was 
a well digger by profession and assisted by Austin, son of James 
and Harriet Frye, had excavated about twenty feet when a large 
mass of sand fell and buried them. In 1836, Myron aged 11 
years, son of Marcus L. and Elizabeth Coburn, was killed by 
being thrown from an ox cart, the heavy wheels passing over his 
body. John, son of Anthony Negro, was drowned in April, 1739. 

An event occurred which brought sadness to Draeut homes 
in 1799. On April 16th, of that year, three little girls lost their 
lives by drowning. They were Sibbel, daughter of Abijah and 
Esther Wood, aged 12 years, and Lydia and Orpah, daughters 
of Joshua and Lydia Thissell. Their ages were 11 and 8 years. 
Their home was on Draeut heights, now Christian hill, and while 
at play, probably near the river, the sad accident occurred. 


AT what time or by whom the mine in East Dracut was dis- 
covei-ed we have no certain knowledge. One account states 
that some Welsh or Cornish miners prospecting along the 
course of the river found the outcropping of minerals at this 
place. Another attributes the discovery to surveyors who found 
their magnetic needle to be deflected by the presence of iron, a 
not uncommon occurrence. The earliest mention on record is 
in 1710, when the Reserved Lands began to be surveyed and roads 
were laid out. References at that time to the "mine pit" and 
"mine pit hill" are to be found in old records. It is possible 
that when opened it was with the expectation of finding gold or 
silver, but as it contained only iron no further attempts were 
made to develop it until 1726, when the owner of the land, Joseph 
Varnum, entered into partnership with Joseph East of Boston, 
who lived on the farm in East Dracut, known as the Herbert 
Coburn farm, on the Pelliam road, leading to Lawrence. At the 
above named date the metal nickel was unknown, but iron and 
other minerals were supposed to be abundant. 

A contract was made dated September 9, 1726, and in it Mr. 
Varnum gives conditionally to Mr. East "one half part of all the 
mines and minerals that shall be found by the said Joseph East 
and Joseph Varnum their heirs etc as equal portions upon the 
same, when refined, upon a certain tract of land in Dracut in the 
easterly part of the town bounded by Merrimack River on the 
south, by Ephraim Hildreth and Josiah Colburn on the west by 
Ephraim Curtis and Cheever land on the north and by Joseph 
Varnum and Mr. Higginson on the east." The contract gives 
permission to use any fallen timber under fifteen inches in 
diameter for the use of the works, leave to erect a stamping and 
refining mill on the brook near the mine pit, and liberty to flood 
the land between September 1st and April 30th. Mr. East was 
to receive no salary, but to have one half of the net proceeds of 


the products when smelted and refined. He was to have full 
control of all the work and to pay one-half of the expenses. Mr. 
Varnum was to furnish one able-bodied man. The business was 
conducted by Varnum and East and each had entire control of 
their share, providing it did not interfere with the contract. By 
a deed of sale dated October 13, 1727, Joseph East conveyed to 
North Ingham, a mathematical instrument maker of Boston, for 
the sum of £150, 3/16 of the whole Lot, being an eighth and a 
half of all the mines and minerals on the land described. By the 
close of 1730, East had sold all his rights in the mine to North 
Ingham, Job Lewis, Samuel Eames and George Cradock, and 
thereafter seems to have had no further connection with the 
business, although he purchased a farm in Dracut, eastward of 
Cedar pond, and became a resident of the town. 

Varnum also disposed of the major portion of his rights to 
Adam "Winthrop, who purchased one sixth for £220, and to 
Ezekiel Cheever and Job Lewis. The greater part of those own- 
ing shares in the mine were residents of Boston. The terms of 
sale in each deed were alike, viz., the right to dig "oar" and make 
improvements, but not to undermine any building unless pay- 
ment was made, this amount to be determined by disinterested 
parties, to pay their share for digging and draining shafts and 
carrying on improvements, and if the mines yielded gold or silver 
they were to pay their proportionate part of the one fifth part 
which belonged to the king. They could cut any pine tree which 
was less than fifteen inches in diameter and use any fallen trees. 
They had leave to set up a stamping mill and to flow the meadows 
as before mentioned. The brook was the eastern branch of Win- 
throp 's, later called Richardson's brook, and runs on the north- 
west of Mine Pit Hill. The length of time in which the mine was 
worked is not known, but it is supposed to have been found un- 
profitable and abandoned. Later the land came into possession 
of Joseph Bradley Varnum, grandson of Joseph, the original 
owner, and the mine is said to have been worked in the time of 
the Revolution for the manufacture of cannon balls. 

An old account book in the Varnum family contains items of 
sums paid for labor at the mine in 1777. A shaft was sunk to a 
depth of forty-three feet, which with the cellar like holes in the 
ledge and heaps of stones which had been thrown out by blast- 


ing, were all that remained until these later years of those early 
mining operations. When the shaft was again cleared from 
water and debris, some relics of the ancient workings were dis- 
covered, some drills and decaying plank, the latter indicating 
the erection of buildings at an early date. 

In 1876, a company was incorporated which leased the land 
and commenced the work of mining as nickel was found to 
exist with iron ore. They bonded the adjoining land, erected 
buildings, installed a stamping machine and steam machinery 
for furnishing power. They drained the shaft and sunk it to 
a depth of sixty-one feet. In a paper read before the Old 
Residents' Association in 1879 it is stated that, "It is expected 
that in one year from this time the establishment will be able to 
supply daily 400 pounds of commercial nickel, ten tons of sul- 
phuric acid and eight tons of pure iron, each of which has a 
marketable demand and value as that of any product of the best 
farm in the country. * * « If therefore the Dracut nickel 
mine shall yield as it is expected by the owners to do, it will 
certainly be a prominent feature in the future of Lowell." 
In 1881, the property came into possession of the Dracut Nickel 
Co., organized under Maine laws with a capital of $500,000. The 
president was Wm. E. Whitehead; the treasurer, Abel T. 
Atherton ; and the secretary, Jerome B. Melvin. But the enter- 
prise was not a success. Great difificulty was experienced in 
securing experts who understood the reduction of ores. For this 
and other reasons the mine was again abandoned. Test pits had 
been sunk of the adjoining land of Joseph Gilman and Luther 
and Bradley Coburn where there were outeroppings of ore and 
if the mining had been successful these ledges would also have 
been opened. The buildings were standing in 1889, but the 
elements were gradually causing them to decay, while, at present 
writing, all that remains consists of heaps of rocks, deep gullies 
and gloomy pits. 

A communication in the Morning Times, dated May 2, 1896, 
adds to the interest which is attached to this ancient work: 
"The only authority that I am able to command says that nickel 
was discovered in 1751. There is no doubt that it is present in 
large quantity in this mine. Nearly every geologist in the State 
has visited the mine and most of them concur in the opinion that 


it could be worked with profit. The ledge is of trap rock. En- 
closed in the trap is an ore called pyrrhotite, often called 
magnetic ore and iron pyrites. Its symbol is F E 11 S 12. This 
is the richest ore for nickel and often contains from three to five 
per cent, of that metal. The presence of iron in this trap is very 
noticeable and many rusty fragments are scattered about. We 
brought home some specimens and among them are found not 
only feldspar but also limestone in the trap. It was an inter- 
esting place to visit for several reasons, scientific, historic and 
so forth. Its scientific interest Avill always remain and perhaps 
the commercial history of the mine is not yet ended." 

Granite Quarries 

Ledges of granite or gneiss are found in the Pawtucketville 
section of the town. Ward's ledge, near the terminice of the 
Pawtucketville car line, extends from Mammoth Road easterly 
nearly to East Meadow Road, or Pond Street as it is now called. 
Farther north and lying between Mammoth Road and the 
Donohoe Road is an extensive ledge or series of ledges. On what 
was called the Old Gumpus Road from West Meadow Road to 
Mammoth Road, near the latter is another ledge. All of these 
ledges show signs of extensive quarrying in past years, but are 
now abandoned. These were the sources from which were 
drawn the material for the foundation of the factory buildings 
of Lowell, and for other purposes before the use of cement for 
concrete was known. Across the New Hampshire line, but for- 
merly included within the limits of Dracut, are the Carlton 
quarry and several at Gage Hill, the latter still used to some 

Fishing Rights 

As wild animals were abundant the Indians procured their 
meat by hunting. And as the rivers were stocked with fish 
they were able to provide a supply of food with little labor. 
Sturgeon, salmon, shad and alewives were abundant, the latter 
to such an extent that, being considered of an inferior quality, 
was used by the farmers for fertilizer. When apprentices were 


"bound out," as it was called, to a trade, an article was inserted 
in the contract providing that they should not be obliged to eat 
salmon excepting when agreed upon at the time of apprentice- 

In 1653, the General Court set apart for the Indians a tract 
of 500 acres at Pawtucket falls for their use as fishing grounds, 
and this was later called the Indian Reservation. When later 
the Indians sold their lands to Jonathan Tyng and Thomas 
Hinchman they reserved the right to visit the falls and fish at 
any time. Within comparatively recent years a few families 
of Indians visited the falls each year and are said to have camped 
on Long Island, called then Musquash Island, near the bend 
of the river, but now losing its identity by reason of the filling in 
of the channel between the Island and Lakeview avenue. The 
northerly end of Aiken Street bridge rests on what was Long 
Island. Tyng and Hinchman sold shares in their purchase to 
many others, including the fishing rights. At one time there 
were forty-two different parties who owned these rights. As 
early as 1801 a petition had been presented to the General Court 
for permission to erect a dam across the river. The people of 
Dracut considered it an invasion of their rights and, at a town 
meeting, voted to present a petition remonstrating against the 
granting of the first-named petition. As this petition will convey 
some idea of the value of these rights at that time, a brief 
record is here inserted. Voted, "That the erection of a dam 
across the Merrimack River at Pawtucket falls will, in the 
opinion of the town, totally destroy the fish in the said river 
and deprive the people of the important privilege which they 
for a long time have enjoyed without molestation, of taking near 
their doors the most delicate food and much of the real neces- 
saries of life." But petitions of remonstrance were only of 
service temporarily, the valuable fishing rights were soon to 
become valueless and with the construction of the dams at 
Lowell and Lawrence and the admission of poisonous dyes and 
contents of the sewers to the river, the fisheries were ruined. 

As early as 1740 the General Court passed an act forbidding 
the building of any dam across a stream unless suitable provision 
was made for the free passage of fish to the water above the 
dam. Although many plans have been devised to comply with 


this law and fish-ways constructed, such plans have met with 
little success at the present time. As it would be difficult to 
define fishery rights without dissension on the part of the owners, 
it became necessary to arrange for the settlement of disputed 
questions. The owners of these rights prepared a contract, 
which has, with its original signatures, peculiar spelling and 
abundance of capital letters, been preserved and laid away for 
many years, to be reproduced in this history : 

"Know all men by these presents That We Edward Coburn, 
John Coburn, Joseph Varnum, Timothy Coburn, Robert Coburn, 
Aaron Coburn, Daniel Coburn, Ezekiel Richardson, Abraham 
Blood, Christopher Williams, John Varmim, the Heirs of 
Abraham Varnum, Moses Richardson, Joseph Hamblet, the Heirs 
of Jabish Coburn all of Dracut, Timothy Clark, John Butterfield 
and Zachary Richardson of Chelmsford and James Littlehale of 
Dunstable all in ye County of Middx Being Propriators In a 
Great Sean Fishery in Said Dracut at ye mouth of Beaver 
Brook at ye place called ye Bunt Fishery In merrimack River. 
And We Being owners & Proprietors in a Great Sean made and 
provided for said Fishery With Roaps and accoutrements to sd 
scan & a fishing Boat provided by us for ye use of sd Fishery 
there, We Every and Each of us owning one Twentyeth part of 
sd Sean, Roaps and accoutrements to sd Sean Belonging and the 
one Twentyeth part of said Boat each of us all escep the above 
said Joseph Varnum & he ye said Joseph Varnum ones one tenth 
of sd Sean, Roaps & Boat. And for ye Future Peace, Quiet & 
Good order of sd Propriators & to prevent Disputes, Contro- 
versies and Confusion ariseing amongst sd Propriators & in sd 
Company & Sosiaty We & Each and Every of us & Each & Every 
of our Heirs Will and Shall at all times Forever Hereafter 
Submit our Selve to a Majer Vote of the Majer part of ye said 
propriators at any meeting of them met for that Business at all 
times and in all things any Way Relating to mauageing & carry- 
ing on the Said Fishery and settleing the account thereon and 
that we will at all times & in all things Relating thereto submit 
to each vote and if any or either of us at any time Hereafter 
Refuse or neglect to comply to any and every such vote that of 
sd propriators so neglecting or Refusing to comply to such 


matters and things as shall be Injoyned him or them to Do & 
perform by ye majer part of sd propriators at any such meeting 
he or they so Refusing or Neglecting to Do & perform as shall 
be Injoyned by ye majer part of sd propriators he so neglecting 
shall be De Glared No partner In sd Sean & Fishery & be liable 
to a suite from sd company & propriators for non performunce. 
In Wittness Whereof We Have hereunto Set our Hands this 
Sixth Day of may A. D. 1761" 1781 May 14 "The proprietors 
of the great sean, Part of them, met to tie on and mend the great 
net, That is, self, Capt. Peter Coburn, Jonathan Varnum, 
Eleazer Coburn, Jonas Varnum, Jabish Coburn, Tim: Williams 
& Timo. Coburn." 

At a town meeting, held March 14, 1714, it was voted: 

"That Caleb Varnum, John Varnum, Edward Coburn and 
John Coburn Jr. should have the fishing place in Merrimack 
River two pool (pole) into ye River upon Dracut Side in the 
bounds of said town for the season of fishing salmon, shad, 
alewives &e for the year 1714. And likewise the Town of Dracut 
does engage not to molest them on any account whatever. Like- 
wise these men that have hired this fishing place doth and hath 
engaged to pay to the Town of Dracut 16 pounds on the 20th 
day of June next for the use of said town and with the receipt 
they are to have the salmon pots that are already made and 
they shall pay for the nails that hold the posts. ' ' 

At a town meeting, held March 3, 1715, a protest was entered 
after a majority vote was passed to give a lease of the rights. 

"We the subscribers do hereby protest and declare ourselves 
against all the articles and business done at this town meeting 
relating to the letting the fishing place &c within 3 rods of the 
shore for the reasons following. First it is not the sd towns 
property. The lands on the shore are appropriated to particular 
persons and three rods from the shore are in some places in the 
channel and in some places across the channel. Second. The 
vote passed tends to debar and hinder particular persons from 


rights in catching fish in ye channel which is and always ought 

to be free to all persons. 

Abraham Varnum Thomas Varnum 

Joseph Varnum John Littlehale Jr. 

John Littlehale Samuel Varnum 

Joseph Varnum Jr. John Varnum. ' ' 

There is no record of any notice being taken of this protest, 
and as, later, the town continued to issue leases, it is probable 
that the petitioners were "given leave to withdraw." The 
quantity of fish which was taken may be estimated by the 
following items: An ordinary catch by a single hand of the 
seine would be about 1500 shad and 3000 alewives. Thirty 
bushels of eels have been caught in a single evening from one 
hole at the Great Bunt. The price of shad was ten cents each, 
while lamprey eels could be purchased for two cents each. The 
cheaper quality of fish was often carted away for fertilizer. 

A clause in the will of John Varnum, dated 1783, relates 
to the value placed upon the fishing rights. To his son, Jonas, he 
gives, "also 1/3 part of all my Rights in the Lands at the mouth 
of Beaver Brook called the Great Bunt sean Proprietors Lands 
with 1/3 Right of a small house standing thereon, called the 
Proprietors Pish House, with 1/3 part of my right in the Great 
Sean, Called the Great Bunt sean, also 1/3 part of all my right 
of the privilege of the Fishery at Petucket Falls, and 1/3 part of 
all my wharfings, staging and privilege of building same or 
setting of Salmon pots as any other fishing at said Falls." 

About 1817, the question arose as to what was the town's 
interest in the fisheries. When the land owners commenced 
to sell land to the Locks and Canals Co. the way was opened for 
litigation and a prospective destruction of these valuable rights. 
A committee consisting of J. B. Varnum, Isaac Coburn anc^ 
Daniel Varnum was appointed to examine titles and ascertain 
what rights, if any, the town had in the premises. After careful 
study they reported that it was their opinion that the fishing 
rights on the north or Dracut side of the river belonged to the 
town, but by their neglect to make improvements and by the 
action of the land owners the town might have lost its claim. 


A few years later these rights, on account of the erection of the 
mills, became valueless. 

As late as 1820, Jonas Varnum sold to the Locks and Canals 
Co. his fishing rights between Cat Brook and Pawtucket Palls. 
He, with eight others, owned these rights in common and he sold 
one-eighth of his undivided part for $400. The control of fishing 
rights in the various brooks was vested in the town and votes 
were passed at the annual meetings in regulation of these rights. 

March 1, 1779, it as "Voted that there shall be no alewives 
taken in Beaver Brook, or ye Brook called Bubble Brook or in 
Dennison's Brook only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays 
& on these days not to take any in sd Beaver Brook within 
30 feet of the sluiceway at Capt. Hales' mill; and no fish to 
be taken on Bubble Brook from the mouth to the road that leads 
from Br. Abbotts to Capt. Coburns, and that thei'e shall be 
none taken in sd Bennisons Brook between the townway easterly 
of ye old mill called Wilsons mill & the upper side of said mill." 

In 1780, it was voted that "no person shall catch alewives by 
net or otherwise from the mouth of Beaver Brook to the State 
line, or on Bouble Brook to Long Pond on Tuesdays, Thursdays, 
Saturdays and Sundays." 

These entries show the value placed upon the fish and the 
care with which they were protected from extermination. There 
was no intimation of the coming days when the river water would 
be polluted with poisonous dyes and waste from the cities which 
would cause the fish to be driven from the streams and the 
valuable fishing rights destroyed. 


THE establishment of factories in Lowell and Draeut was 
the cause of extensive changes in the town. Until the early 
part of the last century, the town was composed of farming 
people, but the change mentioned caused villages to be formed. 
For more than a half a century no change of any importance 
occurred until the introduction of street cars, which furnished 
quick and easy transportation and resulted in the transformation 
of farms into small building lots and the erection of houses. The 
lumbering stage coach was discarded and railroads furnished 
superior means of transportation for passengers and freight. 
This town has never been on the direct line of the road and the 
only public conveyance was the mail carrier's wagon which 
passed through the town three times each week. 

In 1863, a charter of incorporation was granted to the Lowell 
Horse Railroad Company and on March 1, 1864, the first car 
was started. The citizens of Draeut, realizing the advantage 
of a car line, applied for a charter which was granted July 2, 
1886, under the name of the Lowell and Draeut Horse Railroad 
Company. Work was commenced at once and rails laid from 
the Navy Yard village to Lowell and on some of the streets in 
the city on which the Lowell company was not located. The 
officers were John Ames, President; Walter M. Sawj-er, Treas- 
urer; and Percy Parker, Clerk. These were succeeded in 1887 
bj' August Fels, President; John F. Murphy, Superintendent; 
Percy Parker, Treasurer; and in 1888, P. F. Sullivan was 
Superintendent and Clerk. The first line extended to Parker 
avenue. River street was named Lakeview avenue at a later 
date, a new street was opened from Bachman street to Hamblet 
avenue, a large stable was built at the Navy Yard and cars and 
horses purchased. 

The charter permitting the company to operate cars in the 
streets of Lowell created a competition which proved detrimental 
to the success of the enterprise and it was considered expedient 


to enter into alliance with the older company. The two com- 
panies in 1891 united and formed a new company called the 
Lowell and Suburban Company with Hon. E. M. Tucke, Presi- 
dent, while Mr. Parker and Mr. Sullivan retained their offices 
as Treasurer and Clerk. 

The introduction of electricity as a motive power wrought 
great changes. Poles and wires were placed in position, heavier 
rails laid and the work of equipping the ears with suitable 
apparatus was done at the car shops at the Navj' Yard Village. 
Until 1891, power was furnished by the Lowell Electric Light 
Company, but in that year the car company established an equip- 
ment of its own and the use of the former company's power was 
discontinued. The termination of the line on Bridge street, 
while the cars were propelled by horse power, was Nineteenth 
street, but the new company extended it to Dracut Centre about 
1893. In 1894, the road was in operation between Lowell and 
Lawrence which passed through Dracut, near Merrimack river. 
Lakeview Park on Tyng's Pond, now Lake Mascuppic, was 
opened in 1889 and the Lakeview avenue line constructed to that 
point which soon became a continuous line to Nashua. The Hovey 
Square line was constructed in 1910. In 1901 a road from 
Pelham Center was opened by the Massachusetts and New Eng- 
land Company. This was a New Hampshire Company aud the 
line connects with the Lowell lines at Old Meadow Road on 
Moody street. The advantages to the town are obvious. Its 
prosperity is seen in the transportation of farms into thriving 
villages with their increase in taxable property and larger popu- 
lation. The factories are no longer dependent on residents of 
the neighborhood for operatives, the facilities for education are 
increased by the transportation of the pupils on the cars, the 
easy means of access to the city enables the housekeeper to reach 
the city stores, and the places of amusement are more easy to 

Electricity, at first used only for propelling the cars, has 
also been used for the lighting of the public streets and for 
public and private buildings. This method of lighting was in- 
troduced in 1907, power being furnished by the Lowell Electric 
Light Company. In this connection the telephone service may 
be noticed. The Lowell Telephone Company extends its wires to 


all parts of the town, and while at first used only by the manu- 
facturing companies it has become indispensable to the farmers 
and housekeepers. 

Dracut Water Supply System 

The first settlers realized the need of pure water and in 
selecting a building site, they located if possible near a spring. 
This accounts in a measure for the existence of old cellars far 
from highwaj's and often to be found in the forests. When the 
town laid out the highways these sites were abandoned and new 
buildings erected on the new roads. Wells were dug, situated 
at first several rods from the buildings for fear of contamination 
by waste from barns and cesspools. Many of these old wells 
still exist, although the cellars may show only a slight de- 
pression in the surface of the ground. 

The method of obtaining the water was by means of a long 
pole with hook to which the pail was attached and by which the 
pail was raised to the top of the well. This was followed by the 
well sweeps, which consisted of upright posts placed in the 
ground and forked at the top. In this fork a pole was hung, 
swinging freely on a pin, to one end of which was attached a 
heavy stone or other weight, while to the other a pole was 
fastened which in turn held the bucket. Wlien the bucket was 
lowered and filled, the labor of raising it was greatly diminished 
by the action of the weight as a counterpoise. Some farm 
houses were situated near a hill on which would be located a 
spring and by means of pipes, water would be conveyed to the 
buildings by gravitation. In later years, the hydraulic ram and 
windmill were employed to furnish the power which forced the 
water through the pipes. The next improvement was the use of 
logs through which holes were bored lengthwise and joined to- 
gether, resting on a stone at the bottom of the well, the prin- 
ciple \ipon which they acted was the same as that used at present, 
viz., the producing of a vacuum in the pipe into which the water 
is forced by the pressure of the air which amounts to fifteen 
pounds on each square inch of surface. 

The existence of wells in cities and thickly settled villages 
became a menace to the health of the people and finally led to 
the introduction of the present water system. About 1840, Hon. 


Benjamin F. Varnum, who had settled on Dracut heights, now 
Centralville hill, with Joseph Bradley and John K. Simpson, 
received articles of incorporation as the Dracut and Lowell 
Acqueduct Company. A tract of land was purchased for a site 
for a reservoir, but before the plans were perfected Mr. Varnum 
died and the project was abandoned. At the Navy Yard village 
the late John Ames installed a water system which supplied some 
of the families of the neighborhood besides the tenants of his 
houses. A well near Tan House brook was equipped with a 
pump and windmill which was soon changed to electric power 
and a reservoir placed on the high land near Upland street. 

In 1905, the residents of Dracut Center and the Navy Yard 
village received permission to form a corporate body called the 
Dracut Water Supply System. Land was purchased between 
Walbrook and New Boston village, wells were driven and a 
pumping station built. The water is forced through a pipe to 
the top of Marsh Hill to a reservoir and distributed through 
smaller pipes to the houses. The supply at first was 200,000 
gallons every twenty-four hours, but additional wells have been 
driven and the supply increased. The height of the reservoir 
gives an abundant pressure and the quality is unsurpassed. The 
district at the present time includes only the two villages men- 
tioned and the town as a whole has no part in the conduct of 
affairs. Money is appropriated at the annual town meeting for 
the assistance of the department on account of the benefit which 
is rendered by the use of the hydrants by which much taxable 
property is saved. Power is furnished by a gasoline engine and 
a gas engine has been installed to be used if necessary. 

Mention may be made here of the volunteer fire companies 
which have been organized since the water pipes were laid. A 
fire house, in each of the two villages which is supplied with 
water, has been provided where at first hose carriages drawn 
by horses were placed. The horses were furnished from nearby 
stables and the men summoned by messengers. Gasoline motor 
cars now furnish the motive power, telephones and signal boxes 
are used to call the members and a large electric whistle, lately 
installed at each village, calls the inhabitants to their assistance 
and notifies the school children when on stormy days there are 
no sessions of school. 



By Hon. B. F. Varnum 

♦«1% /riNUTES of the Survey of the Town of Dracut, taken by 
IVl Benjamin F. Varnum in A. D. 1831, under the Super- 
intendence of David Blood, Esq., William F. Osgood & B. F. 
Varnum a committee of said town for that purpose by order of 
the Legislature of the Commonwealth and also of the roads, 
rivers and ponds." This is the title of an article in a sur- 
veyor's book found at the Gen. J. B. Varnum house on the 
Lawrence road. In the book the angles at the bends of the river 
and roads are given but omitted in this history, distances only 
shown. Notes in explanation will be added. "Survey of the 
Town commencing at the South East corner at Merrimac River 
and running by said River. ' ' 

From Methuen Line to 

opposite Concord River 

1332 Rods 

Pawtucket Bridge Road 

664 " 

Marbles Brook 

107 " 


46 " 

0pp. Middlesex M. 


263 " 

" Canal 

14 " 

Col. Bloods Road 

136 " 

0pp. Stony Brook 

210 " 


245 " 

Dracut contains 15673 Acres. 

Long Pond 








Beever River 


Other streams 







Road from Methuen line to Tyngsboro line. 

To Moses Bixbys 

46 Ro 


" Theodore Parkers 

12 ' 

" George Coburns 

138 ' 

" Widow Daniel Varnums 

176 ' 

Henry Vamum 

" B. P. Varnums 

14 ' 

J. B. Varnums 

" Benjamin Coburns 

125 ' 

" Samuel Richardson lane 

37 ' 

" Mill Brook 

10 ' 

" David Richardsons 

34 ' 

" Moses Cheevers 

24 ' 

" George Kelleys 

198 ' 

" Joshua Varnums 

111 ' 

" Ezekiel Cheevers 

84 ' 

Stickney farm. 

" Col. Varnum's Old House 

86 ' 

" Road East of School House 

6 ' 


" School House 

7 ' 

" Road west of School House 

4 ' 

Arlington St. 

" Samuel Fletchers 

54 ' 

" Lane to Poor House 

14 ' 

Arlington Ave. 

" Poor House 

75 ' 

" B. F. Varnums Tavern House 

20 ' 


" Samuel F. Woods 

141/2 ' 

" 0pp. Meeting House 

9 ' 

' ' Perley Parkers 

3 ' 

" Intersection of County Road 

5 ' 

Bridge St. 

" Samuel Parkers 

2 ' 

Mr. UdeUs 

" Heman Flints 

13 ' 

" Simon Harris 

9 ' 

" Intersection of the Road 

6 ' 

" Charles Foxs 

51 ' 

Stephen Russell 

" Dea. Stickneys & J. P. Hoveys 

46 ' 

" Intersection of Road 

3 ' 

Hildreth St. 

" Ebenezer Hanchetts 

4 ' 


" Road west of Common 

10 ' 

" Tan House Brook 

49 ' 

" Enoch Fryes 

31 ' 

Pollard house 


To Wid Coburns Lane 

10 Rods 

Now occupied 
by row of 
houses on left 
of Upland St. 

" James Hazeltons 

2 " 

Geo. Clark 

" Enoch Fryes New House 

6 " 

" The Doak House 

11 " 

" Sewell Stanleys 

5 " 

James H. 

" Life Hamblets & E. F. Goodhues 4 " 

Ames & 


" E.F.Goodhue 

12 " 

Dr. Heald's 
on Lakeview 

" Benjamin Bradleys 

4 " 

Sherlock house 

" Lane to S. Burts & Stotts 

8 '• 

Brookside St. 

" East end of Stanleys Bridge 

21/2 " 

" Acrost the rver 

7 " 

' ' The factory 

3 " 

" Gurneys Store 

7 " 

' ' Ebenezer Reeds 

3 " 

" Samuel Harveys Lane 

11 " 

School St. 

" The Bai-nes House 

2 " 

" " School House 

14 " 

" Road by Peter Bowers 

23 " 

Hampson St. 

" Joseph B. Varnums 

16 " 

" Joseph Goulds 

13 " 

" Theodore Hambletts 

22 " 

Garrison House 

" The other house 

33 " 

" Charles Bodwells 

71 " 

0pp. Gatehouse 

" Sam Marshs 

14 " 

" Jonathan Goulds 

46 " 

" Cyrus Varnums 

14 " 

" John Pages 

11 Rods 

" Joseph Varnums 

9 " 

" Cat Brook 

14 " 

" Col. Varnums Old house 

29 " 

" Old Toll house, & New Toll house 3 " 


To County Road 

5 Rods Mammoth Rd 

" Col. James Varnums 

17 " 

" Stone Dam 

32 " 

" Marbles Brook 

76 " 

' ' Props. L & C : on Mer. River 

9 " 

" Widow T. Coburns 

31 " 

" Bradley Varnums 

45 " 

" Road 

3 " 

Meadow Road 

" Widow Ansarts 

5 " 

" Willard Coburns 

26 ' 

" Jeremiah Varnums 

22 " 

" Ephraim Coburns 

60 " 

" School House 

42 " 

" Moses B. Coburns 

14 " 

" Nathaniel B. Coburns 

30 " 

Garrison House 

" Road 

61/2 " 


" David Bloods 

18 " 

" Old House 

1 ' 

To Col. Bloods road 

18 Rods 

' ' Asa Underwoods 


" Road 


" Philip Pierces 


" Timothy Coburns 


" New Bridge Road 


" Widow Ditsons 


" Asa Carkins 


" TjTigsboro line 

303/^ ' 

awtucket Bridge Road. 

To Road 


ds Riverside St. 

" Meeting House 

16 ' 

" Osgood Danes 

69 " 

" Sylvester Pierces 

15 " 

" John Cheevers 

18 " 

" Old Meadow Road 

82 " 

" Road to Parker Varnums 

211 " 

" Henry C. Osgoods 

33 " 

" Opposite Solomon Osgood's 

16 " 


To Road to J. B. Varnums 

" Road to W™ Websters 

" Jonathan Varnums 

" Solomon Abbotts 

" Road to Jonas Varnums 

' ' Double Brook 

" Peter Hambletts 

" Road to Ames 

" Daniel P. Cobums 

" Jonas Varnums 

" Peter Coburns 

" Reuben Coburns 

" Asa Clements 

" John P. Cutters 

" New Hampshire line 

4 R( 

)ds Break Neck 

Hill Road 

26 ' 

' Nashua Road 

11 ' 

' Justus 


52 ' 

79 ' 

24 ' 

16 ' 

99 ' 

63 ' 

' Lakeview Ave. 

11 ' 

' Prank Poss 

19 ' 

83 ' 

74 ' 

112 ' 

32 ' 

' Hill farm 

35 ' 

Christian Hill Road Commencing at County Road Tenth & 
Bridge Street. 

To Nehemiah Jones 

79 Rods 

" Joshua Thissells 

14 " 

" Nathan Thissells 

7 " 

" Joshua W. Wights 

20 " 

" John Parkers 

9 " 

" Amos Woods 

20 " 

" School House 

76 " 

" Ephraim Woods 

16 " 

' ' Richardsons lane 

58 " 

" Nathan Thissells 

14 " 

" Daniel Kelleys 

40 " 

" Reuben Richardsons 

42 " 

Jona. Pox's 

" The Other Road 

73 " 

Lawrence Road 

Jona. Varnums To Tyngsboro Line 

Commencing near said Varnums. Justus Richardson's 
To Road to Jonas Vamum Jr. 125 Rods 

" Marshalls Lane 245 1/^ " 


To Jesse Marshalls 5y2 Rods 

" Ralph Fox's TOi/a " 

" W" Websters Lane 74 " 

" near I. Perhams & Tyngsboro Line 92 " 
" Tyngsboro Line 26 " 

By Jonas Varnum Junior — Commencing at the other road near 
Samuel Hambletts. 

To Samuel Hambletts 24 Rods 

" Jonas Varnum Junior 61 " 

" County Road 17i/^ " Mammoth Rd 

Double Brook 

Road by Jonas Varnums Commencing at the road by Sewell 

Marshalls. Mills Corner. 

To Double Brook 86 Rods 

" Jonas Varnums 17 " Joseph P. 

" Jabish Coburns 41 " Enoch Mills 

' ' County Road 40i/^ ' ' Mammoth Road 

Road from near Samuel Hambletts (Totman Road) to Nathaniel 

B. Coburns. Garrison House. 

To Wid. Lews 481 Rods 

" Zimri Lews 59 " 

" Road near Nath' B. Coburns 79 " Varnum Ave. 

Road by Capt. Bloods' beginning at the North end Varnum Ave. 
To other branch 6 rods 

" Robert Parks 16 " 

" Capt. Bloods 24 " 

" Col. Bloods 44 " 
" the River 5 " 

" Old house 10 " 


Road from Thomas & Samuel Varnums (Varnum Ave.) by- 
Peter Bowers to near J. B. Varnums. (Meadow Road, Pond 
Street and Hampson Street). 

From House to gate 12 Rods 

To other Road 18 " 

" Osgood Road 109 " 

" County Road 205 " Mammoth Rd 

" Osgood Road 255 " 

" Peter and Thomas Bowers 30 " 

" J. B. Varnums Jno Barnes House 17 " 

" Other Road 331/2" Riverside St. 

From Moses Freemans to Solomon Osgoods. Breakneck Hill Road 
To Moses Freemans 14 Rods 

" Francis Hartwells 7 " 

' ' County Road 284 ' ' Mammoth Rd 

From the County Road near H. C. Osgoods 
to the Old Meadow Road SSli/o Rods 

From Daniel P. Coburns to the Old Meadow Road 

ro School House 

3 Rods Geo. Browns 


' Hugh Jones 

38 ' 

' Charles Wilsons 

25 ' 

" Beever River 

12 ' 

' Mills 

3 ' 


" Zachariah Coburn Road 

10 ' 

' Josiah and Daniel Ames 

4 ' 

" \vidow Gideon Coburns 

I6O1/2 ' 

Agents house 

" Phineas Coburns 

49 " 

0. J. Coburn 

" The Old Meadow Road 

85 ' 

H. Jesse 

From near John Goodhues to the Ames road near M. L. Coburns. 

Edmund Coburn New Boston 
To Sand Hill Road 
" Road to Goodhues miUs 
" " near Wiseman Wallaces 
" Wiseman Wallaces 
" The Ames Road 

147 Rods 
17 " Paper mills 
76 " Phineas St. 
4 " Otis P. Coburns 


New Boston 

(Sec Page 390) 


From the Road near E. P. Goodhue's to the road near Bump 

Hill, Sladen & HMreth St. 

To Goodhue Road 23 Rods Dinley St. 

" Simeon Flints 10 " 

" John Goodhues 25 " Arthur 

" The Old Pelham Road 191 " Colburn Ave. 

Bump Hill to Sand Hill 

To Road at Sand HiU 151 Rods Sladen St. to Lakeview Av. 

From the road near Sand Hill to the 

Old Meadow Road 

Lakeview Ave. to Phineas St. 

To road to mills 

S 64° E 10 to house 
S 35 E 4 " miU 

47 Rods Paper mills 

To the Old Meadow Road 

38 " Phineas St. 

"Wiseman Wallaces to Moses Freemans 

To Daniel Goodhues 

47 Rods 

" the brook 

25 " 

" Old Meadow bridge 

41 " 

" Osgood Road 

72 " Breakneck 


From Ames MiUs through New Boston & Over Mars[h] HiU to 

the Road near William Richardsons. 

To house belonging to Reuben Cobum 207 Rods 

Old Meadow Road 


M. L. Coburns 

8 ' 

Zachariah Cobums 

72 ' 

' R. D. Coburns 

Road west of the School House 

17 ' 

School House 

7 ' 

the Road east of the School House 

4 ' 

' Hildreth St. 

Old Meadow Road 

13 ' 

Jonathan Crosbys 

7 ' 

' Crosby farm 

Old Road to Pelham 

179 ' 

' Colburn Ave. 

the New County Road 

162 ' 

' Bridge St. 

Samuel Fox's 

85 ' 

' Mrs. Eben T. 


To Other Road 

6 Rods 

" Roger Coburns House 

20 ' 

" Russell Fox's 

82 ' 

Dana R. Fox 

" Nathaniel Peabodys 

62 ' 

' Bryant Farm 

" Phineas Halls 

70 ' 

Bert ClufE's 

" PelhamRoad 

47 ' 

Burns Hill 

" Road to B. Stevens 

14 ' 

" The Road 

188 ' 

' ' David Jones 

45 ' 

" The Other Road 

83 ' 


Methuen line to Col. P. Vamums 


To Thomas Lenfests 

76 Rods 

" Peter Trulls 

34 ' 

" George Kelly 2 

14 ' 

" OUver Whittiers 

461/2 ' 

" Jonathan Parkers 

52 ' 

' ' The School House 

122 ' 

" B. F. Varnums Harvey House 

6 ' 

" Cross Road 

71 ' 

" Joseph Harveys 

42 ' 

" Jona. Parker 2 

32 ' 

" New Road 

13 ' 

" PelhamRoad 

64 ' 

" Phineas Trulls 

9 ' 

George R. Fox 

" John Trulls 

11 ' 

Bernice Parker 

" Dea. Perleys 

226 ' 

" Capt Fox's 

138 ' 

Harold Fox 

" JoelFoxs S. 78. E. 13 

40 ' 

" Jas. Fox2 

5 ' 

Daigle farm 

" Other Road 

8 ' 

' ' Col Varnums 

123 ' 

Geo. D. Coburn 

" Sam Richardson 2 

1 ' 


" The other Road 

8 ' 

Arlington St. 

Road from Jonatlian Parker Jun To B. F. Varnums and from 
the Widow Parkers to the back road. 
To The Widow Daniel Parkers 126 Rods 

" The Road 8 " 


To James M. Barrens 
" Nathan Parkers 
" The Brook 
" The Other Road 

25 Rods 
47 " 
178 " 
501/^ ' ' Lawrence Rd 

From Pelham Line to the road near Asa Riehardsons & near 

Noah Stevens. 

To Asa Richardson 56 Rods 

" The Road 49 " 

" Road 92 " 

Prom the Gilcrease place to Pelham line 

To Pelham line 199 Rods Franklin C. Wilsons to north 

From the road near Moses Baileys to the road near Thomas Len- 
fests. E. Dracut meeting house to Broadway. 
To Samuel Harris 51 Rods 

2331/2" Broadway 

From the New Boston School House to the Old Pelham Road. 
To Widow Cheevers 43 Rods Elliot Morgan 

" Joseph Durens 94 " J. W. Peabody 

" Mich Coburns 70 " W. R. Kendall 

" Old Pelham Road 751/0 " near Bump Hill 

From Near David Jones' to Methuen Line. 

To Noah Stevens 

125 Rods Corliss Smith 

' ' Road near Asa Riehardsons 


" Gilcrease Road 


' Franklin C. 

" Stevens House 


" Benjamin Stevens 


' Edward P. 

" Herriek Road 


" Abigail Mansurs 


" James Riehardsons 


" Joseph Kittredge 


" Moses Baileys 


" The Harris Road 


' near Cemetery 

" Robert Ellen woods 


' Almon 



To Road 

" Mansur Brook 

" James Richardson Jr. 

" Mansur Brook 

" "Widow Daniel Mansurs 

" Methuen Line 


Prom Pelhara Line by A. & D. Davis to Methuen Line. From PeL 

To Richard Thissells 

" & Deborah Davis 

" Samuel 

' ' Henry Austins 

" W™ Austin Jun 

" The Asa Harris Place 

' ' Tim Barkers House 

" Other Road 

" William Harveys 

■' Methuen Line 

12 Rods 



Prom the road near Robert Ellenwoods Almon Richardsous 

To Pelliam Line. 

To the School House 137 Rods 

" " Road 16 

" Thaddeus Richardsons 41 

" the Brook 67 

" Amos Morses 3 170 

" Joseph Gardners 101 

" Robert Youngs 125 

" Pelham Line 99 

Prom Joseph Gardners to Pelham Line. 

To W» Cloughs 

90 Rods 

" Stephen Richardsons Lane 

10 " 

" Moses Cloughs 

67 " 

" Thomas Lewis 

12 " 

" W" Clough 3d 

25 " 

81 " 

Richardson Lane to Stephen Richardsons 37 Rods 


The survey of the roads, if completed, is not in the record 
although it appears to have been the intention of the surveyors 
to include other roads, as the following entries state : 

Prom James Harris to Joel Pox Jrs. This would be a part 
of Pleasant Street from Greenmont Avenue including Arlington 
Street and Broadway as far as Moses Daigles. 

Old Pelham Road from near Ephraim Richardsons to Pel- 

From near Bradley Jones to near Samuel Worcesters and 
from near said Worcesters to Samuel Foxs. This was the old 
road from Pelham over Marsh Hill to Lowell, commencing at 
the Prescott Jones farm, running through Chapman St., Pox 
Avenue and old Marsh Hill road near the reservoir to Mrs. Eben 
T. Pox's. 

Road laid out by the Selectmen in 1834 from near Merrill 
Richardsons to the County Road near the Central Bridge. This 
is the part of Hildreth Street from near Coburn Street to Bridge 

Road laid out by the County Commissioners in 1835. Prom 
near Levi Wilsons to Nathan ThisseUs. This is now Methuen 
St., the old road running over the hill by way of Tenth Street 
was formerly the highway to Methuen but this new one avoided 
the hiU and was a shorter route. 

Road located bj' the County Commissioners in 1835. From 
Tyngsboro line to Simeon Marshalls and from said line to 
near Tray Rock to the aforesaid road. This is the highway to 
Nashua at the north end of Tyngs Pond now Lake Mascuppic. 

Survey of Long Pond beg. State line South side. This sur- 
vey with angles is recorded. 

Little Double Brook 

To Road 12 Rods Mammoth Road 

291/2" To Beaver 

Survey of Double Brook. 

To Little D(ouble) B(rook) 16 Rods 

" the Road 38 1/2 " Mammoth Rd 

" Little D(ouble) B(rook) 16 "' 


This survey includes only so much of the brook as lies be- 
tween the two points where it divides and where they unite. 

Survey of Beaver River Beg. at Merrimae River. 

Tan House Brook 

123 Rods 

Stanleys Bridge 

41 " Navy Yard 

Goodhues Mills 

208 " Paper Mill 

the Old Meadow Bridge 

74 " 

Double Brook 

504 " 

Ames Bridge 

161 " ColUnsviUe 

Gumpas Brook 

477 " 

State Line 


The discontinuance of Bradleys Ferry and the building of 
Central bridge was the cause of some changes in the location 
of the highways. Travel was diverted from Pawtucket bridge 
and new routes were in demand. The change made in the loca- 
tion of Methueu street, as already noticed, was for the purpose 
of following more level land and lessening the distance as it was 
evident that with the cities of Lawrence and Lowell coming into 
existence travel between these points would be greatly increased. 
Sladen Street was a cart path through the woods which were 
private property, Broadway from Arlington to Bridge streets 
and Bridge street .from near Tenth to Pelham line were just 
opened for travel. Lakeview Avenue from opposite the mills 
of the Lawrence Mfg. Co. to Hamblet Avenue and Dinley Street 
was opened later to construct the electric road to Nashua. 
There was great objection to building a road across the meadows. 
The most striking example of this is the road from PeUiam to 
Bradley's ferry, which runs eastwardly to Burns Hill on the 
north side of Coburn's New Meadows and returning runs west- 
wardly on the south side of the meadows over Marsh Hill, mak- 
ing a long detour which a road across the meadows would have 
avoided. In some cases the owners' names have been given in- 
stead of the tenants as in the case of the road over Marsh Hill 
where the name of Roger Coburn appears. This was an old 
house owned by him and occupied by tenants, his home being 
away a mile in distance and over the Pelham line. The original 
owners of the town farm buildings must have located on the 


farm a long distance from the highway which would account for 
their not being placed directly on Broadway, the new road, 
Broadway, giving them later direct access to central bridge. 
By the opening of the County road, now Bridge Street, travel 
was diverted from Marsh Hill over the old road and from Hil- 
dreth Street and Colburn Avenue which was the highway over 
which stages ran from Boston to towns in New Hampshire. 




BEFORE the introductiou of the steam railroad, about 1835, 
the onlj' public conveyance was the stage coach, while all 
merchandise was carried on wagons drawn by oxen. A semi- 
public conveyance was the mail carrier who on certain days de- 
livered the mail to the post offices in country to\%Tis. The ma- 
jority of travellers furnished their own carriages, but by what- 
ever means they travelled, taverns were necessary for their 
accommodation. At these houses the coach horses were changed 
and shelter and refreshment provided for passengers and ani- 
mals. The use of strong di-iuk was considered indispensable 
and no tavern was fully equipped which did not provide a well- 
stocked bar. A hall was furnished for dances and singing 
schools to which the village residents resorted for recreation. 

There were no cities between Boston and Concord, N. H., 
and the stage route led through the towns where taverns were 
located at convenient distances. The Durkee house near Varnum 
Avenue and in the vicinity of the ferry was the oldest tavern 
in the town. This is possible on account of its location where 
the first settlement was made and near the first public crossing 
of the river. In 1754 it was owned by Abraham Coburn, who 
sold it to Abraham Blood. The estate was owned by this family 
for 100 years and was purchased in 1855 by W. H. H. Durkee. 

The Hovey Tavern is a well-known house standing at Hovey 
Square. Thomas Hovey came to Dracut before the Revolution 
and purchased a small piece of land on which stood the frame 
of a house. This house he finished building and four genera- 
tions of Hoveys have lived here and until the present year 
(1919) has been in the possession of the descendants of Thomas. 
The shape is somewhat changed, as originally it had a long i-oof 
on the back like many houses which were built at that time. 


This was removed, with an ell which was attached to the south 
end of the building in which the "old folks" lived. The old 
square chimney is retained with the large corner posts projecting 
into the rooms, the panelling, the crooked front stairs, the 
kitchen in the rear with the long fireplace and brick oven, the 
overhead floor beams and other features which were in accord- 
ance with the style of building in those early days. The room 
at the right of the front door was the bar room and as the train- 
ing grounds was near it must have been a favorite place for the 
citizens to meet and discuss the situation when news came of the 
oppressive acts of the British ministry. This was on the direct 
highway, now Hildreth Street, for stages going to the northern 
towns after crossing the river at Bradlej's ferry, and as the 
building was near the road lady passengers were served with 
hot tea passed from the windows, without alighting from the 
coach. This house is probably the one to which reference is 
made by John Varnum in his journal: "29 May 1777. In the 
forenoon attended on training & c. No Rhum, flip nor Cyder 
to be had at ye Tavern, the first training of that kind ever heard 
of in Dracutt." 

At the Center near where the hose house now stands was a 
large building, painted yellow, but in recent years destroyed by 
fire. This was a tavern at one time kept by Caleb Blanchard 
and in 1831 it was called B. F. Vamums tavern house and later 
it was conducted for the same purpose by Enoch F. Goodhue. 
In 1860, Oliver Morse sold groceries in the ell. 

Parker's tavern was on the Methuen road, now Broadway, 
and is known as the Worthy Parker farm, now owned by Mr. 
Long. In recent years changes have been made in the interior 
but the dance hall remains unchanged. This was a famous place 
in the early days of Lowell for merry parties to enjoy a sleigh 
ride and dance with supper furnished. The bar room furniture 
remained many years after it ceased to be a tavern. 

Bradleys tavern still stands on First Street, nearly opposite 
the ferry landing. Joseph Bradley was a prominent man in the 
early part of the last century and owned the ferry near Central 
bridge. Its usefulness as a tavern ceased long ago and it is 
now a tenement house. If a teamster furnished his own hay 
and grain no charge was made for stable room. The price for 


a night's lodging was eight cents for a single bed, six cents for 
a double bed, while a hot dinner was provided for twelve and 
a half cents. 

Town Pounds. 

The pound was a very important feature in the town and 
there were laws governing the action of pound keepers and field 
drivers. In recent years the use of the pound has been discon- 
tinued, and wherever the field driver places the cattle, the same 
is a legal pound while the cattle are in his possession. In 1712, 
"John Varnuiiis fort" was the pound, this was the Varnum 
garrison house on Riverside Street. In 1716 the town voted to 
build two pounds, one to be located near James Richard#ons 
which would locate it on Varnum Avenue west of the D\irkee 
road and the other near Ephraim Hildreths which would be in 
the vicinity of Hovey Square. 

In 1713, Edward Coburn's garrison house was declared a 
legal pound, meaning probably the stockade which enclosed the 
buildings. In 1738, Nathaniel Clement built a pound and as 
his home was near the state line on the Mammoth road, it was 
probably near there. In 1790 there is a record of a payment of 
five pounds to William Hildreth and two others for their services 
in building a pound near the house of Ephraim Hildreth. In 
1783, the town voted to build a pound to be located between Dea. 
Thomas Hoveys and Capt. Stephen RusseUs. It was to be built 
of stone, to be thirty feet square and six feet high with a gate 
made of oak lumber, and to be of suitable thickness of wall with 
capstone. The work was probably delayed as payment was not 
made until two years later, when the town treasurer paid Jona- 
than Taylor, William Hildreth and Parker Varnum for building 
it. It was kept in its original condition many years after its 
discontinuance for its purpose as a pound, but is now in a ruin- 
ous condition, but may be seen on Pleasant Street east of Hovey 

In early days hogs were permitted to run at large according 
to a vote taken at the annual town meetings and the duties of 
field driver and pound keeper were of more importance than at 
the present time. Hog reeves were appointed at the annual 
town meetings. 


Work House. 

In 1782, the town voted "to build a house 14 ft square for 
the purpose of Imploying Idle Indigent persons within the town 
as the law directs," and Ebenezer Cobum, Parker Varnum, and 
Thomas Hovey were appointed a committee to build "in the 
cheapest manner possible and in the most convenient place." 
The building was erected and Capt. Stephen Russell, Dea. Amos 
Bradley, Parker Varnum, Thomas Hovey and Isaac Bradley 
were appointed wardens of the work house; and Capt. Ezekiel 
Hale was chosen to serve as master. The following year there 
was recorded the payment of certain sums of money for labor, 
lumber, etc., for the building. There is no record of its location 
as anything to show when it was discontinued. In 1831, the 
town purchased of Samuel F. "Wood and his sister, Hannah, 
wife of Jonathan Crosby, the farm formerly owned by their 
father, William Wood, who had received this farm by will from 
his father, Benjamin, the original settler on this tract. It in- 
cluded about fifty acres and the amount paid was $1265. The 
only way of access to the buildings from the public highway 
was by a lane leading south from Arlington street now called 
Arlington avenue. 

Previous to this time the indigent people had been boarded 
in private families. Upon the town books there are recorded 
entries of Selectmen's orders to the town treasurer similar to 
the following, dated 1766: "Pay to Stephen Russell for keeping 
Paul Wood 30 weeks and finding cloathing £2-13-0." 

One of the first superintendents of the town farm was 
Chandler Chase, who removed to Pelham, N. H. Among the 
later superintendents are Henry Varnum, Gayton M. Hall, 
Stephen W. Wright, Harvey Barnes and others. 

A stone building for the confinement of insane or refractory 
inmates or the temporary detention of arrested criminals w-as 
erected near the farm house. It was about 22 by 14 feet square 
and was provided with suitable locks on the doors and heavy 
bars on the windows to pi'event the escape of the inmates. The 
interior was divided into three compartments, one occupying 
nearly one-half of the building and used for a lodging place 
for tramps and a sleeping place in warm weather for the male 


inmates. One small room with window was for the detention 
of those who for any reason should be kept in strict confinement, 
while a third room was a dark cell in which would be placed the 

During the Civil War there was a large number of inmates 
and it became necessary to make additions to the farm house. 
The number varied from year to year and was a source of in- 
come or expense, according to the ability of the one who managed 
the farm. As that part of the town became more thickly settled 
the land west of the farm lane became valuable for building lots 
and was sold. 

In 1881 the proposition was made to sell the farm and pur- 
chase one in East Dracut which would be of equal value as a 
town farm with less investment in land value. This was defeat- 
ed and in 1911 the farm was sold as there were but a few inmates 
and these are cared for by the town in other ways. The ledge 
on Willard street was sold to the City of Lowell, the ownership 
of the farm by the town ceased and the barn later was removed 
across the street. 

The Water Cure. 

In 1847, a medical institution was established on Sixth 
street, in Centralville, in a building formerly used by the Dracut 
academy as a boarding house for the pupils. A good description 
of it is found in the advertising columns of a newspaper printed 
in Lowell in that year: "Lowell Water Cure Establishment, 
Dracutt, Mass. A new Hydropathic Institution situated on the 
banks of the Merrimack about fifteen minutes walk from the 
city of Lowell, is now open for the reception of invalids. The 
establishment combines the advantages of proximity to a large 
city and a rural residence. ' ' The proprietor. Dr. Robert Darrah, 
states that he has "spared no pains or expense in making it one 
of the most comfortable, convenient and desirable locations for 
Hydropathic treatment now offered to the public. The home is 
elegantly furnished and sufficiently commodious to accommodate 
from 30 to 40 patients, with a good supply of pure water and a 
Bathing apparatus not inferior to that of any other establish- 
ment of the kind." Terms for board and treatment were from 
six to ten dollars per week and Dr. H. Foster was the physician 


in charge. The institution was in existence for a few years, but 
on account of financial difSculties the property was sold in 1852 
by the creditors and two years later was purchased by Fisher A. 
Hildreth and William P. Webster as a residence. 

Purity op Elections. 

The precautions taken to prevent a fraudulent election is 
shown by an order issued to the town when Joseph Bradley 
Vamum was elected to represent the district in Congi-ess. This 
order was directed to 100 citizens of Dracut, including four 
negroes, and they were ordered to meet at the house of James 
Varnum on the 27"> day of July, 1796, ' ' to give their deposition 
touching the election of J. B. Varnum." It probably included 
every voter in the town. Memorials had been presented to Con- 
gress from his district impeaching his election. It was alleged 
that as one of the selectmen of Dracut at the time of his election 
he had allowed certain votes to be received and counted which 
were illegal, if not fraudulent. The memorials were referred 
to the committee on elections. Their report was a vindication 
of Mr. Varnum and expressed their opinion that the charges 
against him were wholly unfounded. 


A record of action taken at town meeting held March 6, 
1780, was as follows: "The town should be divided "into 3 dis- 
tricts by the name of ye upper, the middle and the lower district. 
The upper extends as far East as the Gret Road that leads from 
Bradleys Ferry northward to Edward Coburns." This included 
all that part of the town west of a line drawn from Central 
Bridge, through Bridge and Hildreth streets, and follow in the 
highway leading to Pelham Center as far as the state line. "The 
middle extends from sd Road Easterly to a Town way Easterly 
of George Burns Dwelling house from thence running Southerly 
to Maj. Saml. Varnums, including sd Burns and sd Varnums." 
This would include Marsh Hill, Dracut Center and Centralville 
heights as far east as Bell Grove, formerly Varnums Landing. 
"The Easterly or lower Districts to extend from ye last men- 


tioned way to ye Easterly line of sd Town." These districts 
were in charge of constables, one officer in each district. It is 
not known for what purpose the town was so divided or when 
the system was discontinued. They were not identical with the 
school districts but were probably created for town purposes. 

Royal Masts. 

The English Government reserved all straight white pine 
trees from 15 to 36 inches in diameter to furnish masts for the 
Royal navy, marking them with a broad arrow. In 1766, Gov. 
Wentworth of New Hampshire was appointed "Surveyor Gen- 
eral of all his Majesty's woods in North America" for the pur- 
pose of putting into execution the acts of Parliament relating 
to such reservation. Every owner of land before he commenced 
cutting was obliged to employ a deputy surveyor to mark the 
trees upon his land reserved for the use of the king. For neglect 
the timber cut was forfeited and in this way whole mill yards 
of lumber got out by the settlers were often forfeited. Samuel 
Blodgett of Goffstown, N. H., was, in 1772, appointed deputy 
surveyor for 31 towns in New Hampshire and his jurisdiction 
extended to the towns of Haverhill, Andover, Dracut, Ghebns- 
ford and Ipswich in the Massachusetts colony. It was such acts 
as these which to a great extent exasperated the colonists and 
prepared them for resistance which finally led to the indepen- 
dence of the colonies and to the birth of a new nation. 

Barter and Old Deeds. 

In the early settlement of the town there was but a smaU 
amount of money in circulation and much of the business was 
done by barter and exchange of products of the farm. As no 
market existed nearer Dracut than Boston, fresh meat could not 
be obtained in hot weather, and fish, fresh and salt, smoked ham, 
salt pork, eggs and wild game furnished a substitute. In the 
winter season fresh meat could be frozen and decay prevented. 
Another arrangement which was made was that when a calf was 
killed it was parcelled out among the neighbors who in turn 
repaid the debt by returning the same amount when they butch- 
ered. On April 22, 1741, Joseph East, who in company with 
Joseph Varnum operated the nickel mine, gave a mortgage of 


his farm which consisted of 100 acres. By the terms of the con- 
tract he was permitted to pay with the following articles : hemp, 
flax, cordage, bar iron, cast iron, linens, copper, leather, flaxseed, 
beeswax, bayberry wax, sail cloth, nails, tallow, lumber including 
shingles, staves, hoops, white pine boards, white oak plank, white 
oak boards, ship timber, barrel beef, barrel fish, oil, whalebone 
and eordwood. A large part of these articles could be furnished 
from the farm or received in payment of debts due him and so 
contribute to the discharge of the obligation. 

In deeds of conveyance there was inserted much that at the 
present time seems superfluous. In a deed given by Walker and 
Hunt of the land east of Beaver Brook as far as the divisional 
line, near Hildreth Street, after giving the boundary lines these 
terms are used, "together with all and singular ye Timber, Trees, 
woods and underwoods, standing and growing thereon, swamps, 
grounds, medows, springs, waters, water courses, ways, ease- 
ments, profits, priveleges, rights, liberties, benefits, advantages, 
commodities, hereditaments, emoluments and appurtenances." 

Local Names. — Brooks. 

Beaver brook is the largest stream within the limits of the 
town. It is the outlet of Beaver pond in Derry, N. H., ard 
enters the tbwn north of CoUinsville, and reaches the Merrimack 
river between Pawtucket falls and Aiken Street bridge. It fur- 
nishes power for the factories at CoUinsville and the Navy Yard 
village and formerly for the paper mill where the dam still re- 
mains. The brooks in their order as they flow into Merrimack 
river commencing at East Dracut are: Bartlett's, formerly 
Walker's brook; this rises in the meadows of East Dracut and is 
joined near the Methiien line with the brook which is the outlet 
of Peter's pond. Varnum's brook rises in the meadows in the 
southeast part of the town and enters the river near Bell Grove, 
formerly Varnum's Landing. Richardson's brook is formed by 
the junction of two brooks. Potash and Trout brooks, which rise 
south of Marsh and Burns hills. This brook flows into the 
river at Kenwood village and was called by the Indians, Pophess- 
gosquoekegg, it has also been called Coburn's and Winthrop's 
brook. Wilkinson's brook rises in the meadows near the town 
farm and its outlet was a few rods above Central Bridge, but 


recently it has been turned into a sewer at Billings street and 
continues its course to the river underground. It has also been 
called Belcher's and Richardson's brook. 

Another brook rose between Pleasant Street and Aiken 
Avenue, crossing Hildreth street north of the Hildreth cemetery. 
Hovey's tannery was located on this brook, which now enters a 
sewer at Hildreth street. Beaver Brook, already described is 
next in order. Cat Brook was a small brook crossing Riverside 
street in the hollow east of Pawtueket bridge, but now enters a 
sewer. Flaggy Meadow, or Marble's brook, rises near Ledge 
hill and enters the river near the entrance to the boulevard. 
Clay Pit brook rises farther west and running under Varnum 
Avenue near Totinan Road, takes a course nearly parallel with 
the river, which it enters near Marble's brook. Angelica brook, 
west of the Navy Yard village, runs under Riverside street near 
the sand hill below the cemetery and enters Beaver brook. Tan 
House or Tan Vat brook drains the meadows near the Rifle 
Range and enters Beaver brook below the Navy Yard. Good- 
hue's brook rises in the meadows southwest of New Boston and 
enters Beaver brook above Meadow bridge. Double brook is 
the outlet of Long Pond and formerly furnished power for Var- 
num 's gristmill above Collinsville. It runs under Mammoth 
road below Collinsville and enters Beaver brook. It formerly 
had a branch called Alewive brook. The Coburn New Meadow 
brook, called the Gilbert Coburn Saw mill brook, rises in the 
north side of Marsh Hill and crossing the state line reaches the 
brook in Pelham. 

The principal brooks in that part of Pelham which was, pre- 
vious to 1740, a part of Dracut, are Colliding 's brook, north of 
Gage Hill, entering Beaver brook above the middle stone bridge ; 
Gage's brook, which is the outlet of Island Pond and which runs 
into Goulding's brook; Tony's brook, crossing the County road 
south of the lower stone bridge, and Gumpus brook, which is the 
outlet of Gumpus Pond. West brook is near East Dracut Meet- 
ing House. 

The only pond lying wholly in Dracut is Peters' pond with 
an area of 86 acres and lying in the east part of the town. 


(See IMae 3S7) 


Long Pond lies in Draeut, Tyngsboro and Pelham. A part of 
the east side and the whole of the south end lie in Draeut. A 
small part of the northeast corner of Tyngs pond lies in Draeut, 
the larger part being in Tyngsboro. 


Poplar Hill is a hiU 300 feet above the level of the sea. It 
is in the northeast corner of the town. It has a peculiar forma- 
tion in common with many other hills, being a double hill or 
one which has two summits. This formation seems to be in 
obedience to some law which has not yet been discovered. In 
the hollow between the crests is the point where Pelham, N. H., 
Draeut and Methuen join. It was formerly known as Ayers 
Hill. Burns Hill and Marsh Hill are each 200 feet high and 
lie on the state line north of Draeut center. Loon, or more cor- 
rectly Mallones Hill, lies east of Draeut Center, while Town 
Farm and Christian Hills, each aproximately 200 feet high, are 
well known hills between the Center and Merrimack River. 

Christian Hill received its name from the fact that one of 
the former owners of some of the property was so profane and 
irreligious that he was called Christian John. The present name 
of the hill is Centralville Heights. Bump Hill is a small hill on 
Hildreth Street, south of New Boston village, while Winter Hill 
lies between this village and Marsh Hill. Tan House Hill lies 
between Hovey Square and Tan House brook. Huckleberry Hill 
or Whortleberry Hill is a double hill lying between CoUinsville 
and Park or Mud Pond. Druid, formerly Bridget's Hill, lies 
north of Varnum Avenue. Ledge Hill is on the Mammoth Road 
and has been the quarry from which a great part of the stone for 
the foundation of the mills has been taken. Breakneck Hill lies 
between the Mammoth and Old Meadow roads and was formerly 
in such a condition as to be dangerous for travellers, and for 
this reason it received its name. 

Cow Bridge Hill is crossed by Bridge Street, near the city 
line. In these days few cow bridges are in existence, but occa- 
sionally one may be seen in the country. When the County 
road, now Bridge street, was laid out, it divided a pasture into 
two parts. For convenience in allowing the cows to have access 


to both parts of the land, a bridge was constructed in the hollow 
near Billings Street and thus the hill received its name. 

Flag Meadow hill is a drumlin in Pawtucketville, north of 
Vamum avenue, on which the Lowell General Hospital now is 
located. Powder House hill was the high laud south of Pleasant 
street and west of Hildreth street, and is now crossed by Orleans 
street. This was the training ground for the Draeut companies 
of Militia and a small building recently demolished was used for 
the storage of powder. Downshot hill is in the vicinity of 
Ledge hill on the Mammoth Road. Stephen Hall hill is between 
Marsh and Burns Hill. 

Other Localities. 

Totman Road in Pawtucketville was formerly called Zeal 
Road. Zeal was a contraction of Barzillai. In the time of the 
Revolution, a son of Primus Lew, viz., Barzillai, a colored man, 
lived on this road. His name is among those who served in the war 
and he was a musician, playing a fife. Blackbird swamp lies north 
of Hovey Square. Bear Meadow is southwest of Huckleberry hiU 
and reference is made to it in early deeds. Bushy Meadow lies 
between Bear Meadow and the road leading to Nashua. 

Deer Jump is in the Merrimack River, between Draeut and 
Tewksbury. The tradition is that Satan ran across the river 
by jumping from one rock to another, leaving the print of deer's 
hoof on each rock which may be seen providing one possesses a 
strong imagination. New England is a collection of houses on the 
east side of the hill, which lies in the angle formed by Riverside 
and Pleasant Streets, and near Beaver Brook. The Carpet miU 
and original Paper mill were located at this spot and when dis- 
continued for manufacturing purposes, the Carpet mill build- 
ings were changed into tenement houses, which at present writ- 
ing are nearly all removed. 

Collinsville was formerly Ames' mills, and later was known 
as Lawson's and Pearson's mills. After it became the property 
of the Merrimack Woolen Co., it received the name of Frogtown. 
New Boston is a collection of farm houses north of the Na\'y 
Yard, while Black North is in the Northeast and Kenwood in 
the southeast sections of the town. Bakers Island was in or 
near Beaver Brook and near the outlet of Tan House brook. 


The Navy Yard village is on Beaver Brook, about half a 
mile from the Merrimac river. Various reasons have been given 
for its receiving its name, but the writer received the true reason 
from the daughter of the man who gave it the name. She was 
then ninety-five years old. Reference to the chapter relating to 
fishing rights will show that early in the last century the pond 
above Aiken Street bridge and below Pawtueket falls was a noted 
fishing ground, and the owners or lessees of those rights, after 
fishing, would ascend Beaver brook and moor their boats near 
the dam which was below the present one above Pleasant street. 
Near this dam stood a sawmill with its piles of sawed lumber 
and ship's knees which the farmers had brought and left on the 
bank ready, at high water, to be rafted to the ship yards at 
Newburyport. One day two men, Esquire Life Hamblet and 
Capt. John Burt, were at the mill and, noticing the boats and 
ship timber, one said to the other, "This looks like a Navy 
Yard." "Yes," replied the other, "and we will call it the 
Na\'y Yard." 

Ships knees were formerly used to give strength to a ship, 
as they allowed the decks to be bolted to the sides. An oak tree 
would be selected and cut, leaving about three feet of the trunk 
standing. A root would be selected and cut about three feet 
from the trunk. This would, when properly trimmed, form a 
knee which, in the absence of framework, held the sides and 
decks together. These knees, with other timber suitable for 
ship building, would be prepared by the farmers and brought 
to the Navy Yard village and left on the bank of the brook 
below the dam, where they would be made into rafts, and 
when the river was of a sufficient depth to allow their passage, 
they would be floated down the river to Newburyport, their 
pilots being strong, sturdy men, carrying long oars called sweeps 
with which they guided the rafts to the shipyards. The men 
then returned to Dracut and as there was no means of convey- 
ance they walked, carrying the sweeps on their shoulders. 

Unclassified Miscellaneous. 

The town abounds with evidences of the great glacial move- 
ment which occurred many centuries ago. We are ignorant of 


the physical condition of the country during the centuries which 
followed the ice age until the time of the Indian occupancy, and 
of those years we have no written record. A century and a half 
ago Dracut was a farming town. The falls on Beaver Brook 
were beginning to be utilized. The Merrimack River was simply 
a medium of communication with Newburyport, by which lumber 
might be conveyed on rafts to the shipyards. The Pawtucket 
falls were of no benefit to the community, excepting as a fishing 
place which served to provide an unlimited amount of food for 
the early settlers. The products of the farm were of little value 
except what was consumed at home, as the cost of transportation 
to the Boston markets was almost prohibitive. But a radical 
change was in the near future. East Chelmsford was to become 
Lowell, its meadows were to be obliterated and immense brick 
buildings for manufacturing purposes were to take their place. 
New bridges across the river caused houses to be erected for the 
mill operatives and what a century ago was a farming district 
on the Dracut side of the river now supports a population suffi- 
cient for a large city. 

Seven lines of electric cars now enter the territory which 
was once Dracut. Rural delivery, the parcel post, the telephone 
and the daily paper are conveniences of which the earlier genera- 
tions were ignorant. The introduction of a water system, gas 
to illuminate the buildings and an excellent school system gives 
to the villages the benefit of city privileges. 

The town officers are elected and all town business trans- 
acted at the annual and other meetings, where each individual 
has a right to be heard and government by the people is seen in 
its simplest form. In educational matters the town has endeav- 
ored to secure the best system, the most convenient and commo- 
dious houses and the most efficient teachers. Remembering the 
motto, "Education is the keystone of our liberty," liberal appro- 
priations are made for schools and the supervision placed in the 
care of competent parties. 

In the early years of the town's existence the duties of the 
town officers were comparatively easy. The selectmen were also 
assessors and overseers of the poor. The collector received from 
the farmer the amount assessed for taxes on one bill. At the 
present time many of those same farms are divided into house 


lots, each one requiring a separate assessment and bill. The 
establishment of electric roads has added greatly to the duties 
of town officers in the relocation of highways and the laying out 
of new ones. The town report was printed on a single sheet of 
paper. It now requires a book of many pages. For the repair 
of roads, the town was divided into districts, each imder the 
supervision of a road surveyor. The increasing use of the auto- 
mobile has created a need of better road construction. Now 
many of our town, as well as the state highways, are macadam- 
ized, rounded, smoothed and oiled, thereby giving the durability 
required for the new vehicle. The farmers are introducing 
machinery with which to perform the work once accomplished 
by hard manual labor. Choice breeds of cattle now replace the 
comparatively worthless ones of earlier days. Farms which 
could formerly keep but a few cattle are' managed with such 
system that large herds are now sustained on the same number 
of acres. As the horse superseded the slowly moving ox team, 
so the auto truck is fast taking the place of the horse in convey- 
ing to the market the products of the farm. 

The town officers in earlier times took prompt measures to 
prevent undesirable people from becoming a charge upon the 
town. If a family moved into town, the constable would be 
ordered to warn them to leave within fifteen days, and the warn- 
ing was recorded on the town books. This action was taken, 
not to oblige them to move, but to secure the town from loss in 
case they should demand assistance. Each member of the fam- 
ily was mentioned by name and sometimes several families would 
be warned at one time. In 1801, the citizens entered a protest 
against the building of a dam at Pawtucket falls. Their fishing 
rights were valuable and they predicted the destruction of those 
rights if the dam was built. Their fears proved true, as the 
rights were destroyed. 

The town, in 1837, had the benefit of what was known as 
the Surplus Revenue from the state. By complying with certain 
conditions, the towns would receive this money which must be 
loaned and the interest only used. It was voted that it should 
be loaned to Dracut men only, and in sums of not less than one 
hundred or more than three hundred dollars to each individual. 
As the interest accumulated, it was applied to the building of 


school houses and bridges. For nearly two centuries the sale 
and use of strong drink was considered necessary, as no building 
could be raised, no marriage ceremonies performed, or funeral 
services conducted without the providing of liquors for the occa- 
sion. One of our townsmen informed the writer that at one 
time when the minister was making a pastoral call, as he rode 
into the yard his father hurried him out of the back door and 
ordered him to run across the fields to the store, near the present 
location of the town office, to get a jug of rum, as the laws of 
hospitality required the production of a glass of stimulant for 
the reverend guest. No grocery store was complete without its 
barrel of New England Rum, no tavern was fully equipped un- 
less there was a bar with its variety of liquor to suit all tastes. 

About 1813, the great Washingtonian movement was com- 
menced which in the present day is continued in the various 
temperance movements. In 1847, an article was inserted in the 
warrant, "to see if the town will prohibit the sale of ardent 
spirits." No record was made of the disposition of the article. 
Under date of April 5, 1847, it was voted. That the town "build 
a building for 'lobies' and other purposes." This would seem 
to refer to the stone building near the town farm house on the 
northerly side of Willard Street, used for many years as a 
lockup for persons arrested. Probably about this time the town 
ofSce was built on the opposite side of the road. The two build- 
ings were about the same size and built of the same material. 

Before this time the town books were kept at the residences 
of the officers and the to^vn has been fortunate that its records 
have escaped destruction by fire. Ten years later, in one end of 
the town office, a small room was set off in which the records 
were kept until the school house at the Center was transformed 
into an office and a modern fireproof vault was installed. 

Controversies frequently arose between the Proprietors of 
the Locks and Canals and the town of Dracut. Individuals 
would often sell land in ignorance of the rights of the town 
which would cause trouble. At one time the Locks and Canals 
Company purchased land above the dam of the Varnum heirs, 
who gave them a warranty deed. The town claimed prior 
rights in a landing place and appointed a committee to investi- 
gate. This committee examined witnesses, searched records and 


reported in favor of the town, viz., that the town had not relin- 
quished its rights to tEe bank of the river. This was proven by 
a will of John Varnum bequeathing his estate to his sons, bound- 
ed south on the landing place, not on the river. They were vigi- 
lant in guarding their rights. 

The people of early days are often considered as being sober 
and sedate, which, when occasion required, they were also ready 
for a picnic or dance, and the number of halls and taverns for- 
merly in town bear witness to a spirit of sociability. An entry 
in a private journal kept by John Varnum, under date of Janu- 
ary 15, 1778, records that, "About 2 of ye Clock the company 
viz. Hezekiah Coburn and wife, Parker Varnum and wife, Roger 
Ray and Hannah Brown, Henry Coburn and Samuel Richardson, 
Samuel Coburn and Rhoda, Jonas Varnum and Polly Parker, 
John Parkhurst, Isaac Parker, Abijah Hill and Bradstreet 
Coburn set off in three double slays to go to Billerica, went as 
far as Capt. Miners. Took a drink of Flip and toddy and re- 
turned through the town. Got back here about Sun setting. 
The Company set off for Joseph Varnums to sup there with fife 
and fiddle and returned home about 2 P. M." 

Another entry shows the wages paid a hired man: "13 
April. Settled a bargain with W™ Young for 6 months labor 
beginning this day for which I am to give him a wool home made 
coat, waistcoat and breeches, two shirts, 2 pare of Trowsers, 2 
pare of stockings, a pare of shoes, a hat & $10 for which s'^ W" 
promised to labor for me for 6 mos. from this day." 

References are made to Old tenor. New tenor, lawful money 
&e which indicate different values in the medium of exchange. 
In the absence of a standard of value it was difSeult to ascertain 
the worth of paper money, as the denomination specified could 
not be relied iipon with any accuracy. One writer says, ' ' These 
names and their true significance are not understood by many 
at the present day. The value of this paper money was variable 
and uncertain and from 1741 to 1765 there appears to have been 
little if any metallic money used as a medium of exchange in 
New Hampshire. In Massachusetts, the bills of credit were 
issued in 1690 which were redeemed yearly until 1704 when the 
public necessities were so urgent as to induce the General Court 
to defer the payment of taxes for two years and afterwards for 


thirteen years. The British parliament at length interposed 
and limited the postponement of taxes till 1741. In this time 
new emissions of paper money were sent forth expressed as Old 
Tenor, Middle Tenor, New Tenor first, New Tenor second. As 
the value of an ounce of silver advanced the value of this paper 
currency depreciated. In 1702 an ounce of silver brought 6s 
lOi/gd. The value steadily increased until 1740 it was worth 
60 shillings while the paper money became comparatively of 
little value." 

An entry on the town books record the price of one ox as 
£600 while £1400 was paid for a pair of oxen. In a private 
journal of John Varnum's, under date of 1781, he records 
"Bought James' military' coat & Paid him $800 for the same. 
March 22. Aaron Small brought us 1/2 bushel of beans, asked 
$67 for them. Apr 4 Selectmen here, finished the great Rate 
for the hire of Soldiers. Our part came to about 100 Hard 
Dollars which, at 75 to one comes to 7500 Continental Dollars. 
May 2 Parker paid to me $536 which he received from Dea. 
Hovey for a barrel of Rhum. " During the Civil War, in the 
year 1862, gold was at two per cent premium and advanced in 
1864 to $2.50 for a paper dollar. No metal currency was in 
circulation. Storekeepers paid a premium for copper cents and 
payments for articles of value less than five cents were made by 
using postage stamps. 

Considering the meagre education of the men who lived in 
town during the first century of its existence, it is surprising 
that the records were so well kept. A few misspelled words 
a profuseness in the use of capital letters, the entry of the pro- 
ceedings of town meeting, followed b}' the entry of marks on a 
cow's ear or dates of birth or marriage were of minor conse- 
quence compared with the value of the record. 

The citizens of the town were always ready, in time of need, 
with a helping hand. If through sickness or other misfortune 
the farmer was unable to plant his fields, to cut and cure his 
hay or to gather in his harvest, his neighbors would appoint a 
day when all could meet and the work would be finished. Such 
gatherings were called "ha^dng a wob." 


The Fauna of Dracut 

It was not difficult to clear the town of the few Indians 
who remained after the tribe had removed. They could be per- 
suaded to leave by giving them blankets, kettles and trinkets. 
It was not so with the wild animals. Freedom from their depre- 
dation was achieved only by extinction, and this was rendered 
difficult on account of the dense forests which covered most of 
the country. All domestic animals must be securely penned or 
coralled, especially at night. It was no unusual occurrence for 
the settler to be awakened in the night by the bellowuig of the 
cattle or the squealing of the pigs as they were carried away 
by a bear or wolf. The principal protection was afforded by 
the trusty bear dog and the flintlock gun. Wild cats made night 
hideous by their yells and the presence of the lynx made travel 
by night unsafe. Beavers lived by the brooks and their skill in 
constructing dams caused the meadows to be overflowed, thus 
preventing the growth of alders and thereby furnishing grass 
for the cattle; but all these wild animals have disappeared as 
the forests have been removed. 

The mink and muskrat are still found near the streams, the 
woodchuck and skunk in the fields and among the growing 
crops, and the rabbits and squirrels are in the thickets. Deer 
are occasionally seen. ]\Iany species of wild birds may be seen. 
For game birds there are the native ruffed grouse, or "par- 
tridge," and the recently introduced pheasant. Woodcock and 
snipe are sometimes seen, but the quail is nearly extinct in this 
vicinity. The climate is unfavorable for large or poisonous 
snakes. In the ledges an occasional black snake or adder may 
be found, while the striped and green snakes live in the fields 
and gardens where they destroy bugs and insects. 

The Flora of Dracut 

The oak and pine are the principal trees, the white oak 
being especially valuable on account of its strength and dur- 
ability, while the inferior kinds are the black, yellow and red 
species. The white pine is superior to other kinds as it is easily 
wrought into lumber and many household articles. The red 


or Norway pine is rarely seen and will soon become extinct. 
Maple and white birch are abundant. The maple is of the red 
or swamp species, the rock maple will not thrive here. Swamp 
lands if neglected are soon covered with alders and willows 
whose principal value lies in their conversion into charcoal for 
gunpowder and other uses. The hickory, chestnut and butter- 
nut are common. The graceful elm and conical horse chestnut 
form a refreshing shade. 

Many of our wild flowers are the enemy of the farmer. The 
mullen, once called the velvet plant, and considered a curiosity, 
springs up on new land. The milk weed with its white silky 
pod is a source of trouble to the farmer. The daisy, or white- 
weed, and wild carrot, or Queen Anne's lace, take possession 
of the fields and destroy the value of the hay. The poison 
sumach, or dogwood as it is called, and with its relative the 
poison ivj', are to be found, but not in great abundance. 

The soil of New England is favorable for fruits and the 
choicest varieties of apples are produced in the town. 

Geological Features 

"Within the limits of the town are two principal formations 
of rock, granite, or gneiss, and mica schist. The former is found 
in Pawtueketville and some of the northern parts of the town. 
Some of these ledges have been quarried in former times, but 
are not worked at present. The mica schist underlies a large 
portion of the town and appears in ledges on the surface. In 
some places these masses have been uptilted by the movements 
of the earth in former ages. A ledge of this rock may be found 
south of Pleasant Street and crossed by Aiken and Kearsarge 
Avenues. Bridge Street crosses the Cowbridge hill a few rods 
south of the Lowell line where the rock is seen in the iiptilted 
position as it was thrown out of the original horizontal forma- 
tion and is weathered to a very dark brown. 

One of the best specimens of mica schist is to be seen on 
Willard Street, called the Town Farm ledge, and now owned by 
the City of Lowell. Through the ledge runs a beautiful dyke 
of erruptive rock of a pinkish color composed of quartz and 
feldspar. A rock of similar nature to the schist called mica 


slate, forms the bed of the river at Pawtucket falls and else- 
where. The continued action of the water has worn away the 
softer parts of the rock, leaving the harder portions exposed 
and uptilted at an angle from the horizontal. Pot holes are 
abundant in these rocks varying in size from two inches to a 
foot in diameter. We learn by such formations that in remote 
ages the bulk of the earth was greater than at present and as 
the mass gradually cooled, shrinkage occurred and the crust 
was fractured. Violent movements took place in the interior 
of the earth, causing the upheaval of these rock formations 
from their original beds. 

Colored People. 

Several slaves were owned in Dracut in the early days, 
but none are recorded in the U. S. Census of 1790, although 
the number of free colored people is given as 39. From records 
now existing we learn that they were considered as servants 
rather than slaves, were kindly treated, cared for in old age 
and given a decent burial. They were lo.yal to those who owned 
them and patriotic when their country was in need of defendants. 

One of the earliest colored families in town was that of 
Anthony Negro, also called Tony. He came to Dracut from 
Concord, Mass., with Sary, his wife, and several children, be- 
tween 1712 and 1716. The Concord records give his name as 
Antoner. The committee appointed to allot the Reserved land, 
evidently considered him worthy to share with the white citizens, 
and several lots of land were set off to him in various portions of 
the town. The eleventh lot on the river was granted to him, 
which he exchanged in 1719 with Ezekiel Cheever for 30 pounds 
and 50 acres of land near the Haverhill path, which is supposed 
to be the road north of the Dracut reservoir, now discontinued, 
and which led through East Dracut, which at that time joined 
Haverhill, now Methuen. South of this road on land formerly 
owned by Franklin C. Wilson, and southwest of the present 
buildings, there is an old cellar with a well near it. Its present 
appearance indicates its age, as the elements have nearly oblit- 
erated it and like many other cellars, it is away from any high- 
way and was probably reached only by a path through the woods. 


Reasoning from the fact of its age and that a large part of 
Anthony's land was in this vicinity, it was probably his home. 
Several deeds on record show the disposal of tracts of land al- 
lotted to him around Cedar pond, on Marsh Hill and over the 
line in what is now Pelham. Tony brook in Pelham received its 
name from him. After his death, which occurred June 10, 1741, 
his will was probated naming Josiah Richardson as executor. The 
children mentioned in the will are Joseph, Robert, Peggy, Han- 
nah, Sarah, David, Jonathan and Peter. Dracut records give 
the birth of Jonathan, August 8, 1721, Margaret, August 27, 
1716, Robert, April 15, 1718. No further trace of the children 
can be found, and if there are any of liis descendants in this 
vicinity they must have assumed a different name, as the only 
surname known by which they were called was "Negro." Dis- 
trict No. 11 in the northeast part of the town is called "Black 
North," and from the fact of his owning so much land in this 
section it was so called on this account, as proof exists that this 
was the reason why it was given this name. 

The Lew family were in Dracut about 1745, coming from 
Groton. The records of that town have the following entry 
dated December 28, 1742: "Priamus (Capt Boydens negro serv- 
ant) to Margt. Molatto formerly servant to Saml Scripture, both 
of Groton." Priamus served in the French and Indian war of 
1745 as a musician. His son, Barzillai, born in Groton Novem- 
ber 5, 1743, died in Dracut January 18, 1822. He married Dor- 
cas Brister. He was early in the Revolution, enlisting in Capt. 
John Fords Company in Col. Bridges Regiment, and was present 
at the battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775. He was employed 
as a fifer. Barzillai and Dorcas had several children, among 
them Zimri, who married Mahala Freeman, and their son, Adras- 
tus, who married Elizabeth Freeman, is remembered as a resi- 
dent of Dracut, and who inherited from his ancestors skill as a 
musician and whose children now living in Lowell also possess 
this gift. The home of Barzillai has been mentioned as located 
on Totman road where he owned a farm. An entry in a journal 
written a century and a quarter ago gives this information : 
"4 March 1779 One Stephen Hartwell here to advise relating to a 
Neagro named Jeffery Hartwell, Spent considerable time with 
him at his request relating to said Neagro 's freedom. He 


would have given me a fee. I refused to take one (in a Neagro 
Cause) " Jeffery died July 22 1816. The vital records of the 
town give the death of Jesse HartweU as occurring July 20, 
1816, aged, 75 years. The similarity of the names and the dates 
of deaths of these two men lead to the conclusion that they were 

Jess married Maria — and they were the parents of Violet, 
called Vilot, and Frances, who will be remembered by the 
older residents of the Navy Yard village, and who possessed to 
a great degree cheerful dispositions and marked intelligence. 
Maria, their mother, was emploj^ed for many years by Joseph 
Butterfield Varnum, who at her marriage, presented her with 
some land at the comer of Breakneck Hill Road and Meadow 
Road on which they built a house and where the two daughters 
mentioned made their home. 

In 1779 the town records state that "John Varnum no- 
tified the town that he had received a laborer, a negro, who 
calls himself Jeffrey Freeman about twenty eight years old 
from Joseph Hartwell in Bedford s"" Jefferey appears to be an 
able bodied laboring man and says he expects to earn his living 
at husbandry work" This may have been the Jeffery Hartwell 
before mentioned as the colored people assumed the name of the 
people with whom they lived, having no family names of their 

The town records of Bedford contain an article relating 
to Jefferey Hartwell. It is dated July 6, 1756: "Know all men 
by these presents that I, Joseph Fitch of Bedford in the County 
of Middlesex, in the province of Massachusetts Bay, in New 
England, gentleman for and in consideration of the sum of £24 
lawful money of New England, done, in hand paid at and be- 
fore the sealing and delivering of these presents, by Joseph 
Hartwell of Bedford, above said yeoman, the receipt I do hereby 
acknowledge, have bargained and sold and by these presents do 
bargain and sell unto the said Joseph Hartwell a negro boy 
about 5 years old, called Jeffru, now living at the said Joseph 
Hartwells, to have and to hold the said negro boy by these pres- 
ents bargained and sold unto the said Joseph Hartwell, his 
executors, administrators and assigns forever, and I the said 
Joseph Fitch for myself etc do warrant the above said Nego boy 


unto the said Joseph Hartwell, his heirs etc against me the 
said Joseph Fitch my heirs etc, all and every other person and 
persons whatsoever, shall and will warrant and defend by these 
presents of which negro boj' I, the said Joseph Fitch have put 
the said Joseph Hartwell in full possession by delivering said 
negro at the sealing hereof unto the said Joseph Hartwell" 

The marriage of Moses Freeman of Newton and Dinah 
Lew of Draeut is recorded as occurring October 7, 1808, also 
the birth of nine children. Dinah was a slave and at the time 
of her death, which occurred about 1870, she was blind and 
cared for by her children. Their home was on Meadow road, 
south of the bridge where the cellar may be seen. 

The Draeut vital records give the names of their children 
as follows : 

Eufus Lew born Maj' 11 1810 in Cambridge 

Derinder " June 3 1812 

Moses " Aug 23 1814 

Peter Lew " May 2 1816 

Thomas " March 18 1818 

Osmore Lew " Jan 18 1820 

Lucy " Mar 23 1822 

Barzillai " Feb 29 1824 

Edgar " Jan 1 1826 

In the absence of name of birthplace it is probable that aU 
of these except Rufus, were born in Draeut. Rufus married 
April 24, 1849, Elizabeth Williams of Charlestown. In his 
later years he became nearly helpless on account of rheuma- 
tism, but he was very intelligent and had an active mind which 
caused him to be respected in the community. The other chil- 
dren, except Lucy, who cared for the mother in her old age, 
found homes in other towns. 

Silas Royal, or according to the pronounciation of those days, 
Ryal, was a servant in the household of General J. B. Varnum, 
and it is stated that he was purchased in Boston when an in- 
fant and brought to Draeut. In January, 1776, he enlisted in 
Capt. John Reed's Company, Col. James Varnum 's Regiment, 
and after serving for a time he entered the Navy as a pri- 
vateersman. His name is on the Roll of Honor of Draeut Sol- 


diers, where he is recorded as serving on the Privateer "Frank- 
lin." In 1778 he was kidnapped by speculators and taken to 
Boston, where they intended to send him South to be sold. 
When his absence was known, the Varnum family hurried to 
his assistance and proved to the authorities that he was a free 
man. He was a man who possessed dignity of manner and was 
respected and trusted by the family with whom he lived. "He 
was exceedingly punctilious as to respect he felt due him as 
Gen. Varnum 's servant. If any of the young men failed to 
take off their hats to him when they met him on the road, he 
would crj' out, 'Boys, where 's your manners?' and failing rec- 
ognition, would send his cane after them in double quick time." 

"Ryal as he was called was the body servant of Gen. 
Varnum and accompanied him in his military expeditious. He 
was early manumitted and served as a privateersman, at one 
time of the Revolutionary War on board the brig 'Franklin,' 
Joseph Robinson, commander, at Salem, and drew £30 as his 
share of prize money. He was held in respect by everybody, 
as he was a dignified old darkey with autocratic ways. That 
he was an honored servant is shown by the fact that, though 
old and diseased, he was tenderly cared for and had a room in 
the family mansion. He died several j-ears after Gen. Varnum on 
May 3 1826 and, at his own request, was buried beside an In- 
dian in one corner of the Varnum burial ground at the Varnum 

In an old diary preserved in the Varnum family an ac- 
coimt of the kidnapping of Royal is found : 

"Jan 19 1778 — This morning while at breakfast heard 
that Joshua Wyman had sold Ryal Varnum, that ye News was 
brought from Westford by Jos. Varnum Jr. & that said Ryal 
was carried off in a covered waggon. Handcuffed — on hearing 
of which T immediately called for my horse. Galloped to Jos. 
Vamums to Know ye Certainty. He confirmed it, Sent him 
to Capt. Jo's to come Immediately and Joyne in ye pursuit to 
Relieve sd Royal. He came Immediately. Sent Jonas with my 
horse. Gave Jonas $20 to bare his expenses, with orders to 
pursue with all possible speed, overtake, Bring back and not 
suffer such arbitrary voyalance to Escape with Impunity. They 


pursued, came to "Woburn, found the News confirmed. That 
it was the Infamous Joner White, the Scurrilous Tinker of 
Haverhill, that Bought him (at ye same time knowing sd Ryal 
was a free man) sd "White had Imprisoned him, Woburn peo- 
ple had liberated him. Sd White laid a false charge against 
him. Said he was an Inlisted soldier in ye Continental service : 
that he had received $20 Continental money & had Deserted, 
that he had stole from Sundry persons & was a thief & that if 
ye prison Could not hold him ye Guard should & profanely 
swore that he had bought him & would have him some way on 
that Complaint. Altho he knew it to be false he put him under 
guard. There is je Infamous White that hath worked himself 
by some means as some way to be a quartermaster for ye Army 
at or near Boston, a fine post to get money when Truth Nor 
Honor is not regarded. 

Jan 20. Capt Joseph & Jonas Varnum went to Boston, 
Complained to General Heath against .said White, had sd Ryal 
Liberated, and a promise from the Genl. that he would take 
Notice of said Wliite. They gave sd White Just Character to 
ye General, he promi.ssed he would take Notice of it. They 
went to White, Informed him what they had done. He was 
extrearaly angry. Curst & swore verj' profanely. They delt 
with him very sharply for his Conduct to Ryal. He said he 
did not know that Ryal was free. They told him that he Did 
not know that his Crime aledged against Ryal, for which he 
was put under gaol was tnie, but that he knew ye contrary. 
He said that all such Neagrows ought to be slaves. They told 
him that Ryal was as Good a man & of as much Honor as he, at 
which he was extremely angrj- & profain. Laid his hand on 
his Hanger by his side. They told him they had seen Hangers 
& men before they had seen him or his, that they were Ready 
to answer him any way he pleased, that they on sd Ryal Be- 
half, shoixld Bring an action of Damage for false Imprison- 
ment, that such men stealers .should not go unpunished. They 
came to Wymans same Day. Gave him ye like Trimming." 

By this it appears that the seizure and imprisonment was 
in pursuance of a conspiracy to ship him south and sell him as 
a slave. 


"I, John White solemnly declare that I purchased a Negro 
named Royal of one Joshua Wyman of Woburn in the County 
of Middlesex, State of Massachusetts Bay, sometime the last 
of spring or beginning of summer 1778, for which I paid nine 
fifty six pounds lawful money, sd Wyman declaring to me on 
his word of honor that if I would sell the sd Royal to some 
other Southern Officer, so that he might never again return to 
New England, he would give me some consideration therefor 
(as he said on account of his infamous character as a thief &c) 
and that the said Wyman still retains the money from me that 
I gave him for said Negro, alledging that he is my slave for 
life and that it is my fault that I do not make him so. This I 
solemnly protest to be the truth. 

John White 
Newburyport Sept 28 1779." 

There is in evidence this further paper, showing that pro- 
ceedings were commenced against said Wyman, being instruc- 
tions to Ryal from his counsel Gen. James Mitchell Varnum of 
Rhode Island, the brother of Capt. Joseph Bradley Varnum, 
bearing the title, \'iz. : 

"Instructions to Silas Ro,yal in his action vs. Joshua Wy- 
man to be brought before the Octo term of the Superior Court 
in the County of Bristol Oct. 1779. 

1. Take Deposition to prove the Bill of Sale to White. 

2. Take Deposition to prove that Wyman has confessed 
that he made such a Bill of Sale, that he was sorry for what he 
had done &c. 

3. Make Depst to prove your confinement in irons &c. 
That Wyman was knowing to it, and that Wliite intended 
carrying you to South Carolina as a slave. 

4 Find out if possible who were witnesses to Bill of Sale 
& take their Deposition. 

5 Take Deposition to prove if Wyman intermedalled in 
the affare of your Release and endeavored to have those prose- 
cuted who Released you. Let the witnesses ascertain as near 
as they can thee date of the Bill of Sale. 

6 Get a copy of ye whole case at ye Superior court when 
your Freedom was declared. J. M. Vaenum 


P. S. Desire ye Justices of peace to be particular in their 
captions viz. A plea of Trespas whereof Silas Royal is Pt & 
Joshua Wyman Deft, defending before ye Superior Court at 
Taunton in Oct 1779. 

N. B. Follow your Instructions Exactly without minding 
other peoples nonsense. 

J. M. Varnum" 

The animus of this abduction of said Ryal appears from 
a transcript of Middlesex county court of common pleas records, 
second Tuesday of Sept A. D. 1777 in an appealed case, 
"Joshua Wyman vs. Silas Royal." "The parties now appear 
and the Case after a full hearing was committed to a jury & 
were according to Law to try the same, who returned their 
verdict therein on Oath, that is to say they find the said Wy- 
man promised in manner & form set forth in the writ & assess 
Damage at One Hundred Pounds. It is therefore Considered 
by the Court that the said Silas Roj-al recover against the said 
Joshua Wyman One Hundred Pounds Lawful money." 

His faithfulness in service was appreciated by Gen. Varnum 
and provision made for his care in his will. "My will is that 
Silas Royal, a black man, who has been for a long time sup- 
ported by me, free from expense to himself or the Town, be 
comfortably supported through life, and honorably buried 
after death, at the expence of my Estate, pro\'ided, the small 
property which he has been indulged in the possession of shaU 
not be transferred to any person but my residuary legatees." 

Another colored soldier was Smith Coburn, "Servant of 
Mr. Robert Coburn," who married Peg Connor, "Servant of 
Mrs. Deborah Coburn." His marriage occured July 10, 1776. 
His name is on the Roll of Honor, as he was present at the 
seige of Boston. They lived on the Fowler road, a few rods 
from the highway leading to Nashua, where the cellar may be 
seen. Timothy Coburn, Sr., purchased in Boston two colored 
children and as he journeyed on horseback, he brought them 
in his saddle bags. The little boy lost his life by falling from 
the bag, but the little girl arrived safely and continued through 
life a member of the family. She was very faithful and de- 
voted to the interests of the family. As she had no surname, 


she was known as Dinah Tim. As she cared for the little ones 
of the family and was faithful in her duties, when old and 
infirm she received the care and attention that she had earned 
and to which she was entitled. She was supposed to be about 
100 years old as that period nearly elapsed between the time 
when she was purchased and her death. 

In the History and Genealogy of the Colburn — Cobum 
families we find the following notice: "Naturally her reason- 
ing powers were limited. When quite old and unable to work, 
the daughters of the family were one day preparing to weave 
some checked cloth for aprons. Dinah requested them to weave 
some for her. Upon inquiry as to the use she could make of 
it, she said she wanted it to use when she picked beans. 'But 
where,' they said, 'will you pick beans?' 'In Heaven,' she 
answered. At another time she was seen sticking pine needles 
in the ground, giving as a reason that they would grow and be 
pine trees. Upon Mr. Cobum 's telling her that they would 
not grow she said, 'Have faith sonny, have faith'." 

In the list of colored men who served in the Revolution and 
delivered firelocks, may be found the names of Smith Cobum 
and Sampson Cobum, who were colored men. On the Roll of 
Honor the names of Chester Parker and Tony Clark appear, 
members of this same race. 

The reason for calling the northeast portion of the town 
Black North has, until lately, been obscure. "We now learn that 
a colored man, named Black North, resided there and lies buried 
in the vicinity. As already stated, the negroes had no names 
except what people chose to give them, as for example, Anthony 
Negro, Smith Cobum, Dinah Tim and Cambridge Moor. The 
name does not appear in the vital records of the town but there 
are people living who recall, when children, hearing those who 
knew him relating facts about his life. It is probable that he 
had a family, as we learn that if the children were not inclined 
to obey him he would catch them by the hair and lift them from 
the floor and holding them at arms' length, he would say, "Now 
wiU you mind me ? " 

A colored man, called Cambridge, lived on Marsh HiU. 
His house stood at the corner of the old Proprietors road and 
the present highway near the reservoir. The well is still in 


existence but all traces of the house have disappeared. In one 
place in the records he is called Cambridge Blackman, in the 
same manner as Anthony is called Anthony Negro. The colored 
people were called "blackamoors" from the Moors of Spain, 
and this leads to the supposition that this may have been the 
one whose name appears on the Roll of Honor as Cambridge 
More. He served in a Bedford Company as one selected to 
meet a call for men by act of December 2, 1780. The record 
on the Bedford town books is, "Capt John Moore, chairman, 
provided a negro called Cambridge Moore (servant of the 
above) and agreed to give him as bounty 20 head of cattle, 3 
years old, in case he continued in the service three years." 

Major Ephraim Hildreth had a negro boy named Cuffe 
and directed at his death that Cuffe should be sold with other 
property to paj^ debts and fimeral charges. In the inventory 
he was valued at 100 lbs. In the inventory of Col. Joseph 
Varnum's estate there was entered, "A Negro man servant 
name Cuff, 320 pounds, A Negro servant named Pegg 230 
pounds." Cuff' is said to have been a very bright darkey and 
unusuallj' shrewd. One day his master, the Colonel, got into 
a discussion about some matter with a neighbor, while Cuff 
stood by listening with interest. Cuff gave some peculiar sort 
of a grunt after the neighbor had made some assertion, at which 
the man became very indignant. "Do you think I am lying?" 
he asked. "No, Massa, I dossent say as I does but you talk 
mighty like I does when I isnt speaking de troof. " 

The neighborhood of the Varnum garrison house was 
called Cuff's parish. Rev. Thomas Parker owned or employed 
a colored man named Caesar. A spring of water near Varnum 
avenue supposed to have been discovered by him is called Cae- 
sar's Spring. Col. Ansant emploj-ed two colored servants, one 
named Seip. In the vital records there is a record of a mar- 
riage between Scippio Coburn and Silvia Hill [negroes] dated 
December 13, 1792. 

These are the names of only a few of the colored people 
who lived in the town as many of them are forgotten, but the 
records of those who are known are creditable to the race. The 
graves of some of these people are in the old cemetery, between 


Varnum avenue and the river on the west side of the path oppo- 
site the burial place of the white people. 

Remarkable Atmospheric Phenomenon 

New Enland has experienced extreme cold weather in the 
past centuries, which at times has caused a failure of the growing 
crops and consequent hardship to the inhabitants. In common 
with other towns, Dracut has been visited by its periods of ex- 
treme heat and extreme cold. In an old account book in Dracut 
museum there is a record of such a cold season. "May 4 A 
Cold Storm beegins About Noon with Rain and turns to Snow 
before Night Snows all night and ye Next Day. Wliile noon 
the Snow was about Five inches Deep then turns to rain a Little 
while Then Snow mixt Snow and Rain while Night Next Day 
May 5" Pair Weather No. East Wind Snow Lies all Day till 
night in Some Places Next Day May 7 in the morning Very Cold 
and a Great frost. This in the year 1761". The same winter 
records heavy frosts in May, June and September of the same 

Poverty Year, 1816 

The remarkably cold year of this date has given to history 
the name of "Poverty Year." Corn was planted as usual, but 
could only be used by cutting the stalks early and feeding to the 
cattle. There were frosts every month and snow every month, 
except July and August. In September the corn froze to the 
center of the cob and apples froze on the trees. The following 
winter must have been one of great hardship and suffering for 
the families as there were no facilities for transportation as at 

The Dark Day op 1790 

The nineteenth day of May, 1790, will be long remembered 
as "The Dark Day." A record was made by Professor Wil- 
liams of Cambridge University. "This extraordinarj' darkness 
came on between the hours of 10 and 11 A. M. and continued 
until the middle of the next night. It was so great that people 
were unable to read common print, determine the time of day by 


clocks or watches, dine, or manage their domestic concern with- 
out light of candles. The prospect was extremely dull and 
gloomy. Candles were lighted in the houses the birds disap- 
peared and became silent; the fowls retired to roost; the cocks 
crowed as at daybreak; objects could not be distinguished ex- 
cept at a very little distance ;and everything bore the appear- 
ance and gloom of night. The color of objects was worthy of 
remark. The complexion of the clouds was compounded of a 
faint red, yellow and brown; objects which commonly appear 
green, were of the deepest green, verging to blue, and those 
which appear white, were highly tinged with yellow. Almost 
every object appeared to be tinged with yellow, rather than with 
any other color. Objects appeared to cast a shade in every di- 
rection and there were several coruscations in the atmosphere, 
not unlike the aurora bourealis, but no uncommon appearances 
of the electric fire. The darkness extended all over the New 
England States. To the westward it extended to the farthest 
part of Connecticut and Albany ; to the southward all along the 
sea coast; and to the northward as far as our settlement ex- 
tended. ' ' 

This occurred in the days of our great grand parents and 
the oral traditions related by fathers to sons of the occurrences 
of the day do not differ substantially from Prof. Williams' 
record. They add that the cows came from the pasture think- 
ing that it was milking time. Various reasons have been sug- 
gested as solutions of the mystery. One statement has been made 
that it was caused by burning forests, but this is hardly possible 
as none of the records of the time allude to any odor of smoke or 
to the existence of forest fires of a magnitude sufficient to cause 
such widespread darkness. 

The Yellow Day 

September 6, 1881, will be long remembered for the condi- 
tion of the atmosphere which caused everything to assume a yel- 
low color. Trees, grass, cattle, buildings and individuals were 
apparently yellow. This peculiar condition existed throughout 
New England. It was necessary to use artificial light through 
the day, bats and owls came out, frogs croaked and crickets 


chirped. At the noon hour the darkness, which had commenced 
in the morning, increased in density and to those who were in- 
clined to be superstitious the condition was frightful. Gas 
lights burning in stores and offices shone as white and clear as 
electric lights. At half past three the wind changed towards 
the west and the skj', after passing through various shades of 
yellow, assumed the appearance of a cloudy day. At the time of 
the dark day of 1790 the conditions of the upper atmosphere 
were not understood, but in 1881 scientific men had studied 
these problems. A writer in a Boston paper says: "There is 
now existing in the upper atmosphere a very light fog of so 
slight a density, in fact, that the sun's rays are hardly able to 
penetrate or rather to filter through it. Sulphuric matter exist- 
ing in considerable quantity is found in the composition of this 
mist and we see at once an explanation of the peculiar saffron 
tinge which pervaded the atmosphere." A preponderance of 
certain elements which compose the white light would easilj' 
produce this condition, but it would not be likely to occur more 
than once in a life time. 

The Presentation of Col. Ans.\rt's Portrait 

The Historical Committee meeting of the Molly Varnum 
Chapter, D. A. R., was held at the town library building Feb- 
ruary 20, 1906. After transacting some routine business and 
presentation of historical essays by members of the committee, 
Mrs. C. D. Palmer, after referring to Col. Ansart's services in 
the Revolution as recorded in another chapter, presented to the 
library a framed portrait of Col. Ansart. This was accepted on 
behalf of the board of trustees and the town of Dracut by Silas 
R. Coburn, who at that time was Secretary of the Board of 
Trustees. After the presentation there was an adjournment to 
the vestry, where refreshments were served followed by toasts 
and addresses bearing upon the history of the town. 

Presentation of a Register of the Soldiers and Sailors 
OF THE Revolution. 

The Molly Varnum Chapter, D. A. R. has taken a deep in- 
terest in historical matters relating to the town of Dracut and 


expressed a wish to present a memorial containing the names 
of the soldiers of the Revolution who went from Dracut. In ful- 
filment of this desire the members of the Chapter and the towns 
people met at the library and the memorial was presented to the 
town. It is a register of the 439 men, printed in Old English 
letters, beautifully illuminated. The work of preparing the 
names was executed by Ross Turner of Boston, a celebrated 
artist. Each page has a border of vines, flowers or fruit, and it 
is embellished with shields, flags, etc., on its pages. The binding 
is of beautiful green embossed leather, and it is kept in the 
library in a glass case, also presented by the chapter. Mr. 
Turner, the artist, was present and explained the work was pre- 
pared by him and his assistants. 

The presentation on behalf of the Chapter was made by Mrs. 
M. H. Thompson, Chairman of the Dracut Library Memorial 
Committee, and was accepted by Calvin Richardson, who repre- 
sented the trustees of the library. At the close of the presenta- 
tion exercises, Mrs. C. D. Palmer and Mrs. Thomas Nesmith, 
members of the Chapter, presented a deed of a strip of land lying 
on the west of the town lot which gives access to a new street 
which had just been opened. A collation was served in the 
Chapel of the Centre Meeting House, after which addresses were 
made by the officers and members of the Chapter and papers 
read by ladies resident in the town. The exercises were in 
charge of Mrs. M. H. Thompson, who was toastmistress of the 
occasion. She called attention to the fact that all of the ad- 
dresses were to be by women. 

The first toast was, "Dracut — Historic Dracut. May her 
boundaries never grow less; may her sons and daughters still 
love and protect her, her adopted children bring her long life, 
riches and honor, so that generations to come may point to her 
with pride." Mrs. Arthur Hamblett responded, referring to the 
hearty response to the call to serve in the Revolution and other 

The second toast was, "Our Chapter, God bless Her." 
Response by Mrs. Thomas Nesmith, one of the ex-regents, who 
gave as one of the reasons why the Chapter was interested in 
Dracut, that Molly Vamum, for whom the Chapter was named, 
was in her lifetime a resident of the town. She also gave praise 


to Ross Turner for his work in designing and ornamenting the 

The next toast was, "Massachusetts and the Daughters of 
the American Revolution. May they all live long and prosper, 
and the response was by Mrs. Charles H. Masury of Danvers, 
State Regent of the D. A. R. Her remarks were in praise of 
Massachusetts and she asked, "How can there be anything 
grander or greater than our old State?" 

' ' The Dracut Soldiers of the Revolution. ' ' Response by Mrs. 
C. D. Palmer, who, in response to the rest of the toast, which 
was "May we emulate his faith in God, his sturdy sense of 
duty, and his sturdy independence," said, "Material for a 
score of historical romances is to be found in Revolutionary 
Dracut," and referred to the large number of men who re- 
sponded to the call for its defence. 

"The women of Dracut, those who know them best love 
them best." Response by Mrs. Calvin Richardson, who spoke 
of the hardships endured by the women in the days when the 
men were fighting for our liberties. 

The next toast was, "Stones of Dracut." Response by Mrs. 
Charles Griffin, who called attention to the earlier days of John 
Eliot and Wannalaneet. 

"France in the Revolution." The response was appro- 
priately given by Mi-s. Charles M. Williams, a direct descendant 
of one of the soldiers who came from France with Lafayette. 
She referred to the support given to the American people by 
the people of France and placed the names of Lafayette and 
Rochambeau as worthy of a place beside the name of Wash- 

"The Dracut Library. May its friends, its books and its 
money multiply exceedingly." Response by Miss Rose E. Pea- 
body, who gave a historical account of its foundation and 
growth and gave credit to the Molly Varnum Chapter for the 
valuable assistance rendered in many ways in the past. 

Remarks were made by Mrs. G. C. Brock on the future of 
the D. A. R., followed by remarks on "The Cultivation of 
True Patriotism," by Mrs. Donald McLean of New York. 
Among other interesting things, Mrs McLean referred to Dra- 
cut 's remarkable record in the Revolution. 


The exercises closed with the singing of "The Star Span- 
gled Banner" by Mrs. Williams. 

Dracut Men as Gold Hunters 

Until the j'ear 1848, the present State of California was 
inhabited by Indians, Mexicans and Spaniards. Its resources, 
mineral and agricultural, were unknown and unsuspected. A 
small number of Americans were to be found there, among 
them a Swede, named John A. Sutter, who built a saw mill 
near the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains. To superin- 
tend its construction, he employed James Marshall, who, while 
digging a channel for the flow of the water, discovered shining 
particles which proved to be gold. "The village of San Fran- 
cisco went wild over the discovery. Many sold all their posses- 
sions and hastened to the gold fields. All other business came 
to a standstill. The .judge abandoned the bench, and the 
physician his patients, the town council was broken up for 
want of a quorum, farms were left tenantless and waving fields 
of grain were allowed to run to waste." (Bancroft's History.) 
The gold fever spread rapidly through the country, every state 
had its representatives in the gold regions wielding the pickax 
or shovel, or rocking the cradle which separated the rich metal 
from the gravel. The country was settled only as far west as 
the Mississippi river, and from that point to the Pacific coast 
there were deserts, rivers and ranges of mountains which must 
be crossed while savage Indians, rattlesnakes and wild beasts 
must be met and overcome. 

The journey could be made in three different ways, over- 
land, by way of the Isthmus of Panama, or around Cape Horn, 
which is the most southern point of South America, or across 
the Continent. The Dracut men journeyed by whichever route 
presented to their minds the greatest advantages. The journey 
by way of the Cape must be made in a sailing vessel which, 
owing to the calms and contrary winds, must be long and tedious. 

The route bj' the Isthmus would not require the long jour- 
ney to the Cape and the return north on the west side of the 
continent, but the difficulties of the crossing of the Isthmus 
were many. Mules must be purchased and guides hired. Pro- 


vision must be made for crossing rivers and lakes, poisonous 
reptiles and insects abounded, while the marshy country, with 
its poisonous air, produced malarial fevers. No dependence 
could be placed on the arrival of vessels at the termination of 
the overland journey, and perhaps weeks would elapse before 
a ship arrived to convey them north to the California coast. 

Those who preferred the overland route across the conti- 
nent also had their share of danger and hardships. Large 
parties were organized for mutual protection and economy. 
Leaving some central point, they proceeded by rail to New 
York state, then by the Erie Canal and steam roads to the 
Mississippi river. Mules and horses were purchased and 
broken for the saddle and for wagons, which could be used in 
crossing the prairies, but as they proceeded, reaching the moun- 
tains, the journey must be made afoot, using the mules as pack 
animals. Parties lea\'ing Boston in the month of April would 
reach their destination in November. The route chosen would 
be the one which would be followed having the fewest natural 
obstructions without regard to distance. The wagons would 
be used as long as possible, at times crossing mountains where, 
in descending the slopes, it became necessary to attach ropes 
to the axle and passing them around a tree the speed of descent 
could be governed. 

As a journey of this description was one in which the ma- 
jority of the travellers had not any experience, they did not 
realize what was needed for such an undertaking. Conse- 
quently, on leaving ci'V'ilization they were encumbered with 
many articles which, while needed, became a burden and the 
route would be strewn with cooking stoves, mining tools, trunks, 
water filters for filtering the alkali water in the deserts through 
which they must pass, and household furniture. The skeletons 
of horses and mules marked the route, also the graves of those 
whose strength failed them and who were buried far from 
home and friends. Some woiild become appalled at the dan- 
gers and difficulties of a two thousand mile journey through the 
wilderness and return to the states. The overland route, start- 
ing near Kansas City at Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri 
River, crossed the Blue River, continuing through Nebraska, 
Wyoming, Salt Lake City, Utah, across Bear River to Winne- 


mueca on the Humboldt River, then through Nevada across the 
south end of Goose Lake and down Pitt River to Sacramento. 

No record has been kept of the Dracut men who were in 
these expeditions, but that the town was represented we gather 
from the following names: Ephraim Peabody from East Dra- 
cut who was killed in a mine; George Eastman, Benjamin 
Parker, Coffran Nutting, Nathaniel Stiekney Jr, Justus Rich- 
ardson, Ephraim Peabody from Navy Yard Village, Ezra 
Foster, George Kelly, Austin W. Pinney. 

The gold fields of Australia also attracted Dracut men, 
and in 1853 six members of the Coburn family, viz., Horace, 
Edmund, Gates, Arad, Newton and Jackson, the last named 
was killed by the Australian savages, journeyed by sailing ves- 
sels to that country in search of gold. Gates married while 
living there and died September 18, 1868, leaving a family. 
Horace never married, but died there while Jackson was mas- 
sacred as already mentioned. The others returned to this 

Instances of Longevity in Dracut Families 

Until the first quarter of the last century had passed into 
history, large families were the rule and there was not the in- 
centive to leave the town for other localities, which existed 
later as manufacturing places increased and railroads came into 
existence. Thus some of the families in Dracut have been en- 
abled to reach old age by engaging in farm work thus living 
near to nature and not indulging in those habits of mind and 
body which so often tend to premature old age. 

Prominent among these may be mentioned the sons and 
daughters of Obadiah Richardson and his wife Hannah Hil- 
dreth, whose early home pre\'ious to her marriage was in "Me- 
theuing." These were Obadiah, Jr., born 1776; Sarah, born 
1782, married Isaac Coburn; Hannah, born 1785, married Eph- 
raim Richardson ; Clarissa, born 1787, married Amos Boynton ; 
Lydia, born 1789, married Col. Prescott Varnum; Merrill, born 
1791, married Mucy Wood; Sophia, bom 1793, married Wil- 
liam Foster; Elizabeth, born 1797, married Asa Parker; Char- 
lotte born 1799, married Dea. Reuben Coburn. All of the above 
named arrived at an advanced age, Charlotte and Merrill pass- 


ing away at about 75 years of age; Sarah and Lydia at about 
94. and the others all reaching the age of 80. They all lived in 
Dracut or the immediate vicinity and, excepting Charlotte, at 
their death left numerous descendants. 

The sketch of the Hamblet family records the marriage of 
John Hamblet and Elizabeth Perham. Their family consisted 
of sous, viz. : John, who resided in Maine and who died aged 
about 90; Thaddeus, born 1772, died in 1845, aged 73; Peter, 
born 1775, died at 71 years of age; Life, born 1780, died in 
1874, aged 94; and Theodore, born 1792, at his death was about 
80 years of age. These men, born of good old New England 
stock, leading active lives and temperate in their habits, were 
enabled to live beyond the years usually allotted to man. 

The Hovey family may be included in those who are espe- 
cially mentioned under the heading of this article. Their his- 
tory may be found in the genealogical sketches and need not be 
repeated. Reference has been made to the sons of James P. 
and Rebecca Hovey. William lived in Lowell and was 90 years 
old at the time of his death. Horatio Nelson lived at East 
Cambridge and reached the age of 92. Joshua, who was a 
partner of his brother William, also lived to the age of 92. 
Cyrus was a silversmith in Lowell and died when 77 years of 
age. George inherited the Hovey homestead at Hovey square, 
where he died at the age of 94. These brothers were born in 
Dracut and their lives were spent within the limits of the town 
as originally laid out. but, by annexation Joshua, William and 
Cyrus in their later years lived in Lowell. The Hovey house 
built by their grandfather, Thomas, is still standing and in the 
days of stage coaches was on the highway over which stages 
travelled from Boston to Concord, N. H. It was known as 
Hovey 's tavern and flip and hot tea was provided for the trav- 
ellers, the coaches being driven near the windows where the 
beverage was passed to the occupants of the vehicle, thus ren- 
dering it unnecessary for them to alight. The first U. S. Mail 
to Dracut was delivered at this house. 

The town has produced two individuals who are now 
(1922) still living and who have attained the rare honor of 
being centenarians. Clarissa Polly, second child of Ezra and 
Sarah (Holland) Foster, was bom at Bolton, Canada, Janu- 


ary 8, 1820. She left Canada when 17 years of age to come to 
the States to work. Her father's family at this time resided 
in Lowell and she continued for four years to work in the 
Lowell mills, working 14 hours each day. The family then re- 
moved to the Varnum Garrison house on Riverside St., then the 
highway to Pawtucket Bridge. The Nesmith brothers had 
established a small flannel mill at the Navy Yard Village, and 
she found employment here as a weaver. About 1838 her 
father purchased a farm at New Boston village, where he spent 
the remainder of his life, cared for in his old age by his daugh- 
ter, Clarissa, and her husband, Horace Smith, a carpenter by 
trade whom she married in 1853. She is a member of a long- 
lived family. Her grandfather, Foster, was a soldier in the 
Revolution, and died in his 95th year. Her father and mother 
reached the age of 88. Her sister, Mrs. BanfiU, was 95. An- 
other sister, Mrs. Flynn, and her brother, Ezra, were over 80 
at their death. 

Adeline Parker, daughter of Butterfield, and Mary (Tem- 
pleton) Coburn, was born February 23, 1819, in Dracut. She 
was an operative in the mills of the town and in Lowell, and 
her home was here until her marriage with John Denning of 
St. Louis, Mo. She was one of nine children, all excepting two, 
being aged at the time of their death. Her mother, who died in 
1869, was 87 years old. Her home was at St. Louis, where she 
has resided since her marriage. She died June 18, 1920, aged 
101 years. 

Fast Days and Thanksgivings 

The early settlers of the Colony were deeply impressed 
with the thought of dependence on the Maker of the Universe 
and their public acts were performed with this fact always 
governing them. They came here to escape religious oppres- 
sion, not political tyranny, for they were loyal subjects to the 
King of England for a century and a half after their arrival 
in 1620. Their object was to establish a church where each one 
could worship according to the promptings of their conscience. 
It is not the duty of the writer to record the success or failure 
of the object which led them to cross the ocean and commence 
life anew in a strange country, which until this time was a 


wilderness. Their first buildings were for protection and shel- 
ter, their mills for the conversion of grain into meal and flour, 
and then their next duty was to build a house of worship and 
to provide plenty of rum and molasses to cheer the workmen 
while erecting it. The religious spirit was shown in town 
affairs, as no one would be allowed to vote unless he was a 
church member. Whenever danger threatened or provisions be- 
came scanty, fast days would be appointed and they were 
strictly kept and the day was devoted to fasting and prayer 
for deliverance from threatened dangers. In later years only 
one day in the year was kept as a day of fasting and prayer, 
and this appointed to be held in April where prayers were 
offered for a bountiful harvest. In this State the custom was 
discontinued as the day was given to feasting and sports, and 
Patriots' Day was adopted in its place. 

When relieved from danger or there was an abundant har- 
vest, days of thanksgiving were appointed, which later also 
occurred once in the year, a day in November being set apart 
for feasting, merry making and joy. One writer records that, 
"First Thanksgivings were for harvests, safe arrival of ships 
with provisions, etc., and it is on record that one prudent town 
postponed celebration for a week in order to get molasses to 
sweeten pumpkin pies." As the people of New England be- 
came settlers in the west and south, they carried with them 
their feelings of thanksgiving and now a national holiday is 
proclaimed yearly, and in manj' of the churches services are 
held and the spirit of thanksgiving as well as the form is duly 
recognized. , 

Early Buildings 

Buildings to slielter the family and protect them from the 
wild beasts and Indians were the first to be provided by the 
settlers. Rude in appearance and destitute of architectural 
beauty, they would be warm and as the occupants were not 
accustomed to the conveniences and luxuries of modern civiliza- 
tion, they ^\ere satisfactory and the children received instruc- 
tions in thrift and good citizenship, even if the buildings were 
primitive. As the first settlement was above the falls, so it is 
reasonable to expect the first buildings would be located in that 


vicinity. The Durkee house, near Cobum's ferry, and the 
Garrison house opposite Totman road, are considered the old- 
est, while the Capt. Peter Coburn house north of Collinsville, 
would be erected soon after settlement. No house belonging to 
the Varnums remains standing. The garrison house on River- 
side Street, owned by Joseph Varnum, remained until recent 
years, but is now removed. The art of photography was not 
known and our knowledge of the shape of the earliest build- 
ins can be gathered only from old prints, many of them the 
result of the artist's imagination. 

We need not assume that the first buildings were log 
houses, although the speculators who were here temporarily be- 
fore the Coburns and Varnums may have built them. Chelms- 
ford, just across the river, had been in existence fifty years and 
the many water privileges must have provided power for saw- 
mills, while the axe wielded by a strong arm hewed into shape 
the oak timbers which composed the framework. The old 
houses, to which reference is made, retain the low studded 
rooms, the large beam across the ceiling and the corner posts in 
the rooms. These buildings are exceptional, as to a great extent 
the houses of those days were only one storj' in height with a 
square room on each side of the front door with a smaller room 
in the rear of the chimney which occupied the center of the 
house. A low attic, devoid of partitions, furnished sleeping 
rooms for the larger children while their elders occupied beds 
set up in the square rooms under which were the trundle beds 
which were drawn out at night and occupied by the little ones. 
In these houses large families were raised and not unfre- 
quently an older son would bring home a wife, and grand chil- 
dren would find room to grow and thrive. In such cases an- 
other room might be provided, but in any case the house would 
be well filled. This is not a fanciful picture for houses of this 
kind have existed within the memory of the writer, who was 
acquainted with the occupants in their later life. It is unfor- 
tunate that no records have been kept relating to the time of 
the building of these houses. Allusions to them in the town 
records do not state whether they refer to an earlier building or 
one at present in existence. To form an opinion of the age of a 
building, its general features must be studied. If they corre- 



spond to those above described they belong to the period of the 
first settlement. This type of house could be found a few years 
ago reaching from New Boston Village to the Navy Yard by 
way of Meadow Bridge, but they have all disappeared. 

The Osgood house now standing on the Mammoth road near 
ledge hill and owned bj- Charles H. Cutter is a type of these 
houses. While evidently of the period mentioned, the builder 
arranged for more room in the lower story, as back rooms were 
provided. The overhead beams, the large posts in the rooms, 
the huge chironey with capacious fireplaces are to be found 
which indicate a building of an early date. At the top of the 
crooked stairway may be seen two low attic rooms, each having 
a fireplace, which is rarely to be found in an attic room. 

This style of houses while existing until the time of the 
Revolution, is now nearly extinct. It was followed by a more 
convenient type which represented the improved financial con- 
dition of the owners. The east side of Beaver brook was be- 
coming settled. "We now change to a larger house having two 
stories with four square rooms on the ground floor but by 
reason of a long sloping roof on the back only the two front 
chambers could be square. The examples of this type may be 
found in the Capt. Stephen Russell house, east of Hovey square, 
and the Curtis house on Broadway, now owned by Moses L. 
Daigle, and the old Richardson house on Hildreth St., near 
Cobum St. 

Other houses are still standing which were at first built on 
this plan, but the long roof later removed, viz., the Hovey and 
Abbott houses at Hovey square. The Henry Richardson house 
at Hovey Square and the Rockwood D. Coburn house at New 
Boston, the latter built near the of the Revolution, were 
of this type. The Richardson house just mentioned, was built 
by Gen. William Hildreth and is now a large three story house, 
but a visit to the attic reveals the marks on the chimney of the 
roof of the house showing the pitch of the roof and its original 
height. A later owner, desiring a larger house, added rooms 
on the north side and changed the roof to a flat one, supported 
by trusses. 

The long roof type was followed by one which represents 
the time of the commencement of the last century. The two 


roofs corresponded in shape, the beam in the ceiling and the 
low studded rooms had disappeared, but the large chimney, the 
crooked front stairs and the posts in the rooms, the result of 
using large timbers for framing, were retained. But by the 
introduction of stoves and the discontinuance of fire places in 
later years, the large central chimneys were no longer required 
and a chimney with one flue was substituted. The frames of 
the houses had been so well braced and the timbers so firmly 
joined by oak pins in mortice and tenon that when the house 
was raised the frame could be rolled about without changing 
its shape. This elaborate framing was discarded and the bal- 
loon frame of the present day substituted. 

The meeting houses have been described in a former chap- 
ter and have undergone a similar change. The first one which 
stood on Varnum Avenue was doubtless of one story only and 
of primitive construction. The second one which was at the 
Na^'v" Yard Village, must have had two stories, as when "digni- 
fied," reference is made to the gallery. The third one which, 
in 1794, was erected at Dracut Center and a little later, the one 
at Pawtucket bridge, were of the prevailing style with enclosed 
stairway, outside of the main building, with the pulpit near 
the center of the length of the building and the main aisle 
crossing the width of the room. Later changes placed the pul- 
pit at the end of the room and the center aisle running length- 
wise of the building, but at present individual styles have 
taken the place of regular types of architecture. 

The changes in the school buildings have been even 
greater. One common room with fireplace and seats without 
any support for the back or feet have gradually improved until 
rooms are provided for different grades, steam heat and run- 
ning water with low easy chairs, play grounds and modern sani- 
tary conveniences furnished which promote health and comfort. 

The farm barns were also all of one type. These have 
nearly all disappeared and as they vnll soon be things of the 
past a description of them will be given. The construction dif- 
fered only in the number of floors, the .smaller one having only 
one, the larger having two floors into which wagons could be 
driven, each being near the ends of the barn. The barn floor doors 
and all smaller ones except one on the opposite side opened 


into the barnyard. The cows and oxen were ranged across the 
end of the barn facing the main floor, whose length was the 
width of the building. On the opposite side of the floor were 
stalls for the horses, pens for the young cattle and sheep, with 
small doors opening into the yard, and the deep bays for hay 
and the scaffolds. If the barn was not large enough to require 
two main floors, small doors on a level with the scaffolds gave 
an opportunity to pitch hay and sheaves of grain from wagons 
standing outside. Barn cellars were not provided until the 
present style of building was introduced. 

The FrasT Garrison House 

The date of the erection of this building is not known, but 
it was in existence in 1664, five years before the first settlers, 
Varnum and Coburn, came from Ipswich. This building is now 
standing on a street which connects Varnum Avenue with the 
Boulevard and is owned by the Citj- of Lowell, and permission 
has been granted the Lowell Historical Society to occupy it. 
This building is on a part of the Military grant of 1664, and 
four j-ears later was sold to Edward Colburn, who, at his death, 
left it to his son Joseph. It was sold to the Blood family, who 
in turn sold it to Major W. H. H. Durkee and is known as the 
Durkee house. 

Colburn erected houses in the vicinity for his sons which, 
in the Indian raid of 1675, were burned, but evidently he and 
his sons were stationed in this garrison house which was en- 
closed in a stout pallisade or stockade and were enabled to pre- 
vent its destruction. In this building Daniel Gookin, the In- 
dian agent, held a court once a year until the settlement of 
the town. Minor cases were settled by the Indians, but Gookin 's 
court corresponded to our Superior Court. It was originally 
a four-room house, with fire places having hearth stones ten 
feet in length. The shape of the original building is shown 
in the picture of the house. It was later enlarged to its present 
width by lengthening the rafters on the back of the house and 
making the roofs of unequal length, the front roof remaining 
unchanged. This roof was afterward lengthened, giving it its 
present shape. An examination of the attic room shows these 


Edward Colburn's ferry was a continuation of this high- 
way to Chelmsford and this building was the toll house. The 
stone posts which supported the gate still exist although only 
one is standing. During the years preceding the Revolution 
the broad fields adjoining were the parade ground for Capt. 
Peter Coburn's company and in the building, which was also 
a tavern, was the barroom which was considered indispensable 
on election days, the voters meeting here, where games and fes- 
ti-^-ities would be continued for several days. 

The Toll House at Central Bridge 

"Where Varnum Park now is, stood at the end of the dis- 
mal covered bridge of the period, the toll house, which is hardly 
historical, but was the place of more than common interest and 
of distinct indi\adualitj'. Many people will remember it, and 
also the sprightly lady who sometimes presided over the till — 
clean, crisp and of unbounded hospitalit.y. There were hood- 
lums then as well as now; but no hoodlum who measured 
swords with her ever left the field without a scratch. On a 
Saturday afternoon, the great field da.y of country people, 
every inch of space belonging to the toll house was occupied by 
vehicles, with horses sleepily enjoying an unwonted holiday or 
luxiiriously toying with their nose bags while the owners were 
over to Lowell trading. I can see them now, as they come trail- 
ing one bj' one wearily across the bridge, bearing their sheaves 
with them. The toll house was to the people of Dracut what a 
modern f men's) club house is today — a choice bit of gossip 
flying through the air was sure to find lodgement and circula- 
tion. The Boston Daily was passed from hand to hand, and 
contents noted, and lost, strayed or stolen conveniently posted. 
But when the bridge became free in 1850 (sie), the toll house 
was no longer needed and its star went out." (Mary E. Wight 
in Lowell book). 

The last toll keeper was a man whose name was Spaialding 
and who through an accident had lost one of his lower limbs. 
What a contrast between those times when the toll man could 
leisurely collect his money, unfasten and swing back the gate 
which reached across the street, and have time for an inter- 
change of views on the political situation after which the t«am 


entering the bridge, he returned leisurely to the office before 
his services would again be required, a contrast when we con- 
sider the almost uninterrupted stream of vehicles, street cars 
and pedestrians which now daily pass over this bridge. 

Town Kecords 

The absence of records for the first ten years of the ex- 
istence of the town forbids the recording of the transactions 
and vital records of that time. It is fortunate that the books 
liave been preserved through the years in which they were kept 
in dwelling houses and liable at any time to be destroyed by 
fire. The peculiar spelling of names and lack of system in re- 
cording events are of minor importance and due allowance 
must be made for the phonetic spelling as the clerks, while 
men of sound sense and ability, had received very little educa- 
tion. To reproduce all their errors would occupy too much 
space in this work, although it would be of interest to record them. 

A large blank book in which records of town meetings, 
vital statistics, private marks on cattle, etc., were all recorded 
together, was considered sufficient, while names of those who 
were born or died were often entered with no information re- 
lating to their parent's names or in any way connecting them 
with any particular family. One instance to illustrate will be 
given which is only one of many of a similar nature. While 
preparing a genealogy of the Colburn-Coburn families, the 
writer had occasion to record the date of death of Lydia, wife 
of Elijah Coburn, and the town records were consulted. There 
were several bearing this name, oulj- three having the name of 
the husband given. The others were: Lydia d Jan 24 1813 
Lydia d June 26 1821. Mrs. Lydia d. Feb. 21 1842. Lydia. 
Old age Dec 30 1846. Fortunately at that time some of the 
grand children were living and the one who gave the informa- 
tion that he was the baby at the time of her death, was born in 
1821 and thus the date was secured Such entries are the de- 
spair of the genealogist. The clerk understood who they were 
and seems to have taken it for granted that future generations 
would be able to identify them. 

The occupation given in some cases was peculiar, one being 
"hiinting and loafing." While one name given a child was con- 


sidered sufficient, the opposite extreme is often seen, thus, 
Caleb Methusaleh Bishop Baxter Polk Page, who had a brother 
equally well provided, who was named John Howard Wilber- 
force Clarkson Fox Penn Page. 

That the clerks spelled names as they were pronounced we 
learn from a few examples. Austin, Astin and Astens. Clem- 
ent, Clament, Clammous, Clements, Clemment, demons. Co- 
burn, Colbon, Colburn, Coben, Coban. Bathshebu became Ba- 
shaba, Bathshebe, Bershaba, Barshaba and Barsha. Gilehrest 
was changed to Gilereas, Gilcrest, Gilgreast, and Guilgreast. 

While many births are unrecorded as there was no law 
until 1850, which required such record, some appear whose 
births occurred in other towns. Eight children of Benning and 
Elizabeth Moulton are recorded, but none of them bom in Dra- 
eut. The death of Samuel Armor, "alias'' Pompy, a Spanish 
Indian, is recorded as occurring on May 7, 1744, and it is pos- 
sible that this is the Indian who is buried in the corner of the 
Varnum cemetery and near whom Silas Royal, who was owned 
by Gen. J. B. Varnum, was at his own request buried. The 
name of this colored man was pronounced in those days Rial, 
and when recorded was spelled "Silas riol," which was an 
enigma until it was remembered that the herb penny royal was 
called penny riol. Other names were changed, Atkinson be- 
came Adkinson, Ditson was changed to Didson, and was so 

In the record of marriages the residence was in several 
cases given, ' ' Resident som Whather, ' ' or they were called ' ' f or- 
igner" or "Trancien person." Books with printed forms are 
now provided for these records giving name of child, date of 
birth, names of parents, etc., also records for marriages and 
deaths are for use of town clerks. The present law requires 
that old records shall be placed in fire proof vaults all shelves 
and inside doors must be metal and the records are not to be 
removed from the building. A Commissioner of Records is 
appointed to see that the letter is obeyed. 

The opportunities for omission of record are rare, as a 
license for marriage and permit for burial must be issued and 
physicians and nurses must report births. A sum of money 
was bequeathed to the New England Historic Genealogical So- 


ciety by Robert Henry Eddy, and November 6, 1901, the society 
voted "That the sum of $20000 from the bequest of the late 
Robert Henry Eddy be set aside as a special fund to be called 
the Eddy Town Record Fund for the sole purpose of publish- 
ing the Vital Records of the towns of Massachusetts and that 
the Council be authorized and instructed to make such arrange- 
ments as may be necessary for such publication. And the 
treasurer is hereby instructed to honor such drafts as shall be 
authorized by the Council for this purpose." To aid in this 
good work the state has made an annual appropriation for the 
publication of the records. All early records are included, but 
none later than 1850 as all since that date are to be found at 
the registry at Cambridge. The act passed by the Legislature 
is as follows: 

Chapter 470. 


In the Year One Thousand Nine Hundred and Two. 

AN ACT To provide for the Preservation of Town Records of 

Births, Marriages and Deaths Previous to the Year 

Eighteen Hundred and Fifty. 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives 
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same^ 
as folloivs: 

Section 1. Whenever the record of the births, marriages 
and deaths, previous to the year eighten hundred and fifty, of 
any town in this Commonwealth, shall be printed and verified 
in the manner required by the commissioner of public records 
and the board of free public library commissioners, acting 
jointly, and the work shall appear to them to have been pre- 
pared with accuracy, the secretary of the Commonwealth shall 
purchase five hundred copies of such record at a price not ex- 
ceeding one cent per page: provided, that the written copy of 
the town records shall become the property of the Common- 
wealth, and shall be deposited in the office of the secretary of 
the Commonwealth ; and provided, further, that, not more than 
fiften thousand dollars shall be expended by authority of this 
act in any one year. 

Section 2. The volumes purchased as aforesaid shall be 
distributed by the secretary as follows: — One copy to the office 


of the secretary of the Commonwealth; one copy to the com- 
missioner of public records; one copy to the free public library 
of each town and city of the Commonwealth; one copy to each 
state and territorial librarj' in the United States; one copy to 
the library of Congress; one copy to each incorporated his- 
torical society in the Commonwealth ; one copy to the library of 
each college in the Commonwealth; one copy to each registry 
of deeds, and one copy to the court of registration. The re- 
mainder shall be placed in the state library for purposes of 

Approved June 11, 1902. 

Notices were sent to the towns and cities of the fund de- 
scribed and they were given an opportunity to apply for the 
benefit of the same. It was the intention of the Society to make 
the publication of the records free of expense to the town, but 
later it was thought best for the towns to bear the expense of 
the manuscript copy. The trustees of the Public Librarj^ con- 
sidered it proper to make inquiries in relation to expense, etc., 
and bring the matter before the town. An appropriation was 
made by the town and the work completed. The instructions 
relating to it were, no ink or paper to be used except such as 
was approved and furnished by the state, no private records of 
any description to be used, town and Church Records and 
cemetery headstones only to be copied. The writer of the manu- 
script while preparing it in his own hand writing, must follow 
the exact copy as found. If the clerks of the earlier days inter- 
lined words, or wrote and then drew a pen through them, or 
gave the word a wrong spelling or improper use of capital let- 
ters, or made an ornamental letter these must all be reproduced. 
If he caused a blot to be made or touched the page with an inky 
finger or absentmindedly made any marks, all such must ap- 
pear in the manuscript which is deposited in the state archives 
while the printed copy corrects these errors. When ready, a 
verifier was sent from Boston and the work examined. It was 
then printed, bound and distributed without further cost to the 
town. Historical societies in some cases have furnished the funds 
in connection with the state with the pro\'ision that the print- 
ing, binding and general make up must all correspond with 


the other copies making their appearance uniform. The towns 
and cities that have prepared the records now number 145, and 
a copy of each may be found in the reference room at the town 
library building. 

Transportation and Vehicles 

When the first settlers in the region now known as New 
England, explored the country, reports of such explorations do 
not include any reference to the use of horses and none were 
imported on the ships which followed the Mayflower. The In- 
dians had no highways, a few beaten paths were sufficient for 
their use as all journeys by land were made on foot and for 
their use on the rivers and ponds they were skilful in fashion- 
ing light, strong canoes of birch bark which covered a wooden 
frame. For them time was of no value and consequently speed 
was not a factor to be considered, so that long journeys, when 
necessary, held no element of care or dread for them. With no 
fixed habitation they were at home wherever a camping ground 
was foiuid near a fishing place and where a hostile tribe could 
not surprise them. These early settlers needed no means of 
transportation as there were no settlements nearer than those 
of the Dutch in New York and the French in Canada. When 
Roger Williams was banished from the colony he walked 
through the woods to Rhode Island, sleeping at night in the 
forest without covering except what was afforded by the trees 
and rocks. 

When the towns between this part of the Merrimack river 
and the sea were incorporated and horses introduced the means 
of communication were improved, but somewhat restricted. As 
horses could not be provided for every member of the family, 
a device called a pillion was attached to the saddle, which en- 
abled the man and wife to be carried by one horse, and prob- 
ably a small child could be held by the mother. To reach a 
seat on the pillion, a horse block was provided, from the top of 
this block it was easy to reach the seat. These blocks, when 
their use was discontinued, disappeared, but occasionally one 
may be found. Such a one may be seen at the present time, it 
being a solid rock forming a part of a ledge having on the side 


a step, cut with a chisel midway between the top and the ground. 
This is near the site of the Edward Coburn house, which stood 
on the stage road from Boston to Concord just over the state 
line in Pelham. The farm was later the Capt. Gilbert Coburn 

As the need for transportation of farm produce, lumber, 
etc., increased wheel vehicles came into general use, taking the 
place of saddle bags, which, as the name implies, were bags 
attached to the saddle, in which small articles could be con- 
veyed and, as may be seen in the article relating to colored 
people, little children were sometimes carried. The first wagons 
were heavy lumbering affairs, destitute of springs and with 
wheels revolving on a wooden axletree. The first improvement 
was the use of the thorough brace, used only on two-wheeled 
vehicles. Two frames consisting of a stout piece of wood bolted 
to the shafts and connected by a cross piece in each formed 
the frame of a cradle, the end of the frame on the shaft forming 
an acute angle with the shaft. From the cross piece of the 
frame in front to the one at the back stout leather straps ex- 
tended on which the body of the vehicle rested, the seat being 
directly over the axletree. Thus the body was slung as in a 
hammock, and to some extent the rider protected from the rough- 
ness of the road. These which had no top were road sulkys, 
called gigs, and used largely by physicians in their daily jour- 
neys, while those which had covers were the chaises of our an- 
cestors and were retained in use by doctors until the days of 

Occasionally a four-wheeled wagon could be seen with the 
body resting on thoroughbraces which were attached to a low 
frame instead of swinging in the air as was the case of the 
chaise. When wagon bodies were placed on steel springs, these 
springs could be adapted to the wagon body but not to the 
chaise, and so the thoroughbrace sur-\dved. Although many im- 
provements have been made and different .styles of carriages 
produced, the principle of the steel spring still exists, not being 
superceded by anything better. The present century marks the 
decline of horse-drawn vehicles, those drawn by oxen have dis- 
appeared, and the automobiles and aeroplanes are fast sup- 
planting the methods of locomotion of our ancestors. 


The Jay Treaty 

The citizens of Draeut had taken an active part in the 
establishment of a republic as has been shown in previous chap- 
ters and, as was their right, they claimed and exercised this 
right by watching the acts of those in authority and were not 
afraid to remonstrate whenever anything was done which they 
considered prejudicial to the interests of good government. In 
1793, the French Republic declared war against England and 
endeavored to persuade the United States to become an ally. 
As steps were taken by France to compel this new republic to 
engage in this war, the sympathy of France was forfeited and 
this government remained neutral. The course taken by Eng- 
land at this time was such as to involve us in a war on our own 
account. Besides violating treaties, her greatest offence was 
the impressment of seamen on American ships and obliging 
them to serve in the English navj', claiming that they were sub- 
jects of Great Britain. Wishing to avoid further war, Wash- 
ington sent John Jay as Envoy Extraordinary to England, to 
conclude a treaty by which a settlement of the difficulties might 
be made. This treaty was ratified by the Senate, but while sat- 
isfactory terms were made on some of the points in dispute, 
the article relating to the impressment of sailors remained un- 
changed. It was very unsatisfactory to Washington, but real- 
izing that it was impossible at the time to conclude a treaty on 
better terms he, after much hesitation, signed it. 

In common with other towns throughoiit the country, Dra- 
eut held an indignation meeting, at which 160 of the citizens 
voted unanimously to protest against the treaty and a remon- 
strance was duly signed, setting forth their reasons for such 
action in forcible but respectful language. The concluding 
paragraph is: "We are unanimously of the opinion, 160 voters 
being present in the said meeting, that the said treaty ought 
never to become a law of the United States." Time has proved 
the wisdom of Washington's action, although at the time he 
was severely censured by those who preferred war. The towns- 
people did not carry their right to remonstrate to excess, but 
doubtless in common with others realized later the wisdom of the 
ratification of the treaty. 


THE limits of a to\ra history forbid an extended account 
of the families, but a brief sketch of those who were 
prominent in the early history of the town will be given. Of 
these a few descendants remain who bear the name of their 
ancestors, while in many cases the original name is extinct, 
but there are representatives of nearly all of the early families, 
although through marriage the names are changed. In the 
earlier centuries of the Christian era, surnames were unknown. 
Individuals were known by their occupation, their local sur- 
roundings, their personal appearance, and by their titles. Thus 
James the cooper became James Cooper, George by the lake 
was George Lake, Adam the short was Adam Short, and Edward 
the clerk was Edward Clark, as the name was then pronounced. 
In Arthur's "Dictionary of Names" we find that: "It is 
impossible to decide at what precise period names became 
stationary or began to descend hereditary. According to 
Camden, surnames began to be taken up in France about the 
time of the Conquest (1066), or a very little before, under King 
Edward the Confessor." Among the Scandinavians, and par- 
ticularly in the Swedish country, the son received the father's 
name, with "son" for a final syllable, as, John's son which 
became Johnson. Other pecularities will be noticed in the 
sketches of the families. 


The name is derived from the Syriae word aiha, meaning 
father, and an abbot was the superior or head of a monastery. 
The first of this name to emigrate was George Abbott, who came 
to this country from Yorkshire about 1640, settling in Andover, 
where his descendants are prominent in business circles. The 
line of Solomon, who was the first in Draeut, is George^, 
Benjamin-, David^, Solomon^. He came from Andover in 1758, 
and purchased from John White 110 acres of land with build- 


ings, and a ferry and fishing rights formerly belonging to 
Robert Hildreth. The farm extended from the river to Tenth 
Street and from what is now Bridge Street to Beacon Street. 
He sold, in 1761, 57 acres with the ferry to Amos Bradley 
of Haverhill. His wife's name was Hannah Colby. One of his 
sons, David^, owned a farm on the river, including a group of 
islands below Hunt's Falls, called Abbotts Islands, but sold his 
property in 1804 and removed from town. Solomon, Jr.*, 
purchased a farm on the Mammoth Road, extending to Beaver 
Brook. Another son, paniel Colby*, was a carpenter and 
purchased a farm on what is now Hildreth Street, which was 
formerly the stage road from Boston to Concord, N. H. It was 
purchased of the heirs of John Bowers and is north of Hovey 
Square. This was the well-known Abbot farm, and the original 
house consisted of only two rooms, to which Mr. Abbott made 
additions, the roof in the rear being longer than the one in 
front, leaving but one story on the back, but later it was changed 
to its present appearance. Land was purchased adjoining, also 
outlying pastures and woodland, and at his death his son, 
Daniel" , came into possession of valuable property. Daniel C* 
held the office of town treasurer for twenty-one years and was 
Representative to the General Court. His son, Daniel", bom 
in 1804, was a farmer and held minor offices in the town. 
Others of the name were in town at an early date. One Daniel 
Abbott lived on a farm at the Na\y Yard village which had 
formerly been owned by the minister. Rev. Nathan Davis, but 
sold the property in 1765. Dr. James Abbott lived at Collins- 
ville, opposite the tenements of the American "Woolen Co. on 
the Mammoth Road. Five men of the name served in the 
Revolutionary army, from Dracut. 


Marie Louis Amand Ansart de Marisquelle was a native of 
France, born in 1742. As a citizen of France his name was 
as given above, but voluntarily relinquishing a title and citizen- 
ship of that country he became simply Louis Ansart. His 
father was a marquis and the son was given an education at a 
military school. He gave his attention to the study of en- 


gineering instead of the duties of the field and camp. His 
special work was the casting of cannon, and in this department 
he was proficient. Soon after the American Colonies declared 
their independence, he, with many others, came to this country. 
Recognizing the need of the American Army for efiieient 
artillery, he at once saw his opportunity, and offering his 
services to the State of Massachusetts, they were accepted. The 
offer of his services has been preserved and are interesting and 

"Prosposal of Monsieur De Marisqiielle 

Marie Louis Amand Ansant De Marisquelle an old Captain 
of Infantrj' having been brought up iu the forges of France (his 
father and the Marquis of Montalembert, his relative, having 
furnished for many years all the Iron cannon in the service of 
the French King) proposes to the Honorable Council and House 
of Representatives to establish furnaces in the State of Massa- 
chusetts Bay upon account of government for the purpose of 
furnishing the state with all such Iron cannon as they may 
need. He has some particular methods of softening the Iron 
by a mixture of ores and minerals and also of casting the cannon 
solid and boring the same by which means they are rendered less 
massy and yet stronger than others east with a cylinder which 
always occasioned many little holes or cavities in the pieces and 
which frequently occasioned the bursting. His father having 
observed how prejudicial those cavities were to the service of 
artillery, he in the year 1750 cast many solid cannon and find 
them superior to those cast with a cylinder, and at present no 
other but solid cannon are cast in the forges of France. 
His father is the inventor of the machine which is used for 
boring said cannon and with it a 24 pounder can be bored, 
polished and the spruce cut off in twenty-four hours. If the state 
will furnish the lands, buildings, machines and every necessary 
material for the apparatus he will constnict the furnaces and 
superintend and erect the buildings and every thing relating 
to the said foundry, which being ready and the mills prepared 
for boring, he will then furnish one cannon ready for service 
everv twentj'-four hours out of the common iron ore within this 


state, it being understood that he should have cast a few be- 
forehand to give them time to cool. The calibre or bore of the 
cannon will depend on the largeness of the furnaces. He will 
prove his cannon before commissioners appointed by the state. 
He will disclose at any time all his knowledge in the premises 
to any such persons as the state may order and to no others. 
And if he does not fulfil the whole promised on his part in 
these proposals (unavoidable casualities excepted) he agrees 
not only to forfeit all claims to anything by virtue of these 
presents but also to forfeit the sum of 1000 pounds to satisfy 
the damages the state may sustain through his failure in ful- 
fiilling his proposals as aforesaid. He expects from the state 
to receive $300 in hand to compensate the expenses he has 
been at removing from Europe to this state and also $1000 
yearly from and after the date hereof to the end of the present 
war between Great Britain and the United States of America 
and after that time the sum of $666 & 2/3 dollars yearlj' during 
his life he doing and performing his part in all respects as 
aforesaid. He also expects the honor of a Colonels Commission 
to give him rank but without any command or pay in virtue 
of said commission. Dated Dec. 6, 1776." 

These terms were accepted by the authorities of the State and 
he was appointed Inspector-General of foundries and Colonel of 
Artillerj' in the American army. His headquarters were at 
Boston, where he became acquainted with his future wife. Miss 
Elizabeth Wimble, daughter of William Wimble. Their mar- 
riage took place in 1778, but her death occurred soon after, and 
in 1781 he married her .sister, Catherine, a miss of fifteen years 
of age, who became the mother of ten children. Although he 
had anticipated no active service, he applied for an opportunity 
to experience some active duty, and when the Rhode Island 
campaign was opened in 1778, he was sent by the Board of 
war to Gen. Sullivan with a letter in which he was recom- 
mended as one capable and efficient. He is described by the 
Board as one "Glowing with Ardor to signalize himself in the 
intended Expedition who comes to offer himself with Cheerful- 
ness to any service for which you may think him qualified." 
And they further stated, "that from long personal knowledge 


and acquaintance we have had with him we can recommend him 
as a brave and worthy man and flatter ourselves he will so 
acquit himself as to deserve that Approbation from his General 
for which he is so eagerly panting." He served as an aid to 
Gen. Sullivan and was later sent to assist D'Estaing, who had 
command of the French fleet. In 1784, he selected Dracut as 
his home and removed here residing on what is now Varnum 
Avenue, near the Old Meadow Road. In 1793 he became a 
citizen of the United States as this country was later called. 
The people of France had followed the example of America 
and overthrown monarchy and established a republic, but the 
change had caused manj' of the wealthy citizens to become 
impovirished. On account of this the property owned by 
Colonel Ansart was of little value to him and as his pension was 
barely .sufficient to support his large family, he was able to 
leave only a small amount for their support at his death which 
took place May 22, 1804, at the age of 62 years. 

His love of display led him to purchase the first chaise ever 
seen in Dracut, and as he made his first entry into town after 
purchasing it, the neighbors ran to the windows to see the 
curiosity. He, while doubtless secretly pleased, cursed them for 
fools. The food to which the townspeople were accustomed 
was not acceptable to him, and he procured a French cook from 
Boston to supervise the cooking. When Lafayette \'isited this 
country in 1825, he came to Dracut to .see Col. Ansart, a fellow 
countryman and fellow soldier of the Revolution. 

He is buried in the Woodbine Cemeterj^ near Varnum Ave- 
nue, and on his tombstone it is recorded that "He arrived in 
this country in 1776 and b}' the Authorities of Massachusetts 
was immediately appointed a Colonel of Artillery and Inspector 
General of the Foundries in which capacity he served until 
the close of the war of the Revolution." His portrait has been 
placed in the Dracut Public Library. 

His genealogical line is: 

1. Michael Ansart. 

2. Robert Ansart, who married Antoinette Perrin. 

3. Jacques Francois Ansart, born June 24, 1684; died July 
6, 1756 ; married Feb. 29, 1713, Petronille Gery de Marisquelle. 

cvRus nicnAiii 

<Sc-e Page 417) 


4. Robert Xavier Ansart, born Nov. 14, 1713; died Feb. 10, 
1790, married Catherine Guillelmine, who was born Sept 18, 

5. Marie Louis Amand Ansart de Marisquelle, born 1742 ; 
died May 22, 1804, married Elizabeth Wimble, and at her death 
he married her sister, Catherine, who was born in 1763, and 
died Jan 27, 1849. From a record in possession of the Lowell 
Historical Society, said to be in the handwriting of Dr. Amos 
Bradley, the names of Robert, born Sept. 23, 1782, and Lewis 
born Oct. 5, 1783 are found. The Dracut "Vital Records" 
record the names of those born in Dracut. 

Julia, born June 19, 1785; died Oct. 12, 1869; married 
December 30, 1806, Bradley Varnum. 

Elizabeth Wimble, born June 22, 1787; M. Nov. 15, 1804, 
Jonathan Hildreth. 

Sophia, born July 23, 1784 ; married 1st, Peter Haseltine Jr. 
2d, Dr. Nathan B. Spalding. 

Hariot, born March 12, 1791; died Jan. 2, 1814; married. 
May 7, 1809, Samuel Wood. 

Felix, born Jan 26, 1793. 

Catherine, born Nov. 29, 1794 ; died Aug. 27, 1829 ; married, 
March 12, 1826 ; William Leighton. 

Athis, born Dec. 21, 1796 ; Married Joanna . 

Abel, born Oct. 2, 1798; married Martha Brown. 


The name is derived from bower a dwelling or shady recess. 
The first of the name in this country was George, who, in 1636, 
lived at Scituate and in 1656 was at Cambridge. JerathmeeP 
came to Chelmsford now Lowell, and located near Pawtucket 
Falls, where he is recorded as having a ' ' still for strong water. ' ' 

Johnathan^, born 1674; John*, born 1707, married Anna 
Crosby. John^, born 1737, married Rachel Varnum. His farm 
was on the east side of Hildreth Street, reaching from Pleasant 
Street to Tan House Brook, including the Abbott farm and 
other land near Hovey Square. John", born Dee. 23, 1757; 
married in 1777 Abiah Goodhue, and lived at New Boston Vil- 
lage on the farm lately owned by Wm. Kendall. John* and 


his father John^, were minute men and marched to Lexington 
on the memorable 19th of April, 1775. The death of John* 
occurred while returning to his home at night after working 
for a neighbor. His path crossed a shallow brook west of the 
cemetery, over which a plank was laid, and his body was found 
h'ing in the water. It is thought that he was attacked with 
giddiness and, being unable to rise from the water, was drowned. 
Peter' and Thomas" lived on Hampson Street, opposite Kinsella 
Street, and their brother, James'' lived at the corner of Lake- 
view Avenue and New Boston road, the farm now owned by 
H. Jesse Coburn. Five of this name are on the Roll of Honor 
of Revolutionary soldiers. 

Coburn and Colburn 

The earliest mention of the name is found during the reign 
of Henry VIII, who became King of England in the year 1509. 
At that time the name was spelled Colbarne, becoming later 
Colburne, Colburn and Coburn. The home of this family was 
in Staffordshire, and Feb. 6, 1553, Edward Colbarne, gentle- 
man, was elected a member of Parliament. Henry VIII died in 
1547 and as his son, Edward VI, reigned only six years, Edward 
Colbarne must have been a member of Parliament during the 
reign of King Edward's sister, Mary, known in history as 
"Bloody Mary," who married Philip of Spain, son of the Em- 
peror Charles V. Edward had a brother, Sir George Colburne. 
The will of Edward Colbarne, gentleman, of the city of 
Litchfield, was proved July 13, 1568 in the probate court of 

He bequeaths to wife Katherine and her daughter, lands I 
bought in Colwyche (now Colwich). To William Colbarne son 
of Roger Colbarne 5 works as well as the wood, bricks and tiles 
he sold when managing the works and woods in Hoppas Haye. 
His executors were his brother Francis Colbarne and Richard 
Allen, servant. It is interesting to know that at that early daj' 
the names of Coburn and Dracut had a connection which a 
century later (16C9) was renewed when a possible descendant, 
Edward Colburn became the first settler of the town of Dracut 


in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay. In 1553 when Edward was 
a member of Parliament from Stafford, Sir Philip Drayeot was 
member from Litchfield while later Edward represented Litch- 
field and Stafford was represented by Sir Philip Drayeot. The 
similaritj' of the names of the earlier Colburns to those of the 
settlers of Dracut render it very probable that this family was 
the immediate ancestors of the Dracut family of a century later. 

It is difficult to ascertain from what this name is derived. 
In the "Genealogy of the Colburn-Coburn Families" it is stated 
that "Names of Cockburn, Colborne, Colburn and Coburn are 
to be found in the histories of Great Britain and Ireland, but 
however spelt, it is generallj- agreed by those who have made 
a study of the name that the English and Scotch pronuneia- 
tin is Coburn. In England at the present day we have proof 
of this in the name of the locality in London, High Holburn, 
which is pronounced Hoburn * « * * There is good reason 
to believe that the name is not a Saxon but Scandinavian name, 
and that the family came to England with the Danes, that 
they were sea kings and that the name means either black 
bear or king's bear. It is possible that it may be a Scotch name, 
meaning Coldstream, a burn being a small brook or, English, 
relating to an occupation viz. a coal burner. ' ' 

In William Arthur's "Etj-mological Dictionary of Family 
Names," the word Colburn is given as a Cornish-British word, 
meaning the dry well or the well on the neck of the hiU. 

In the list of passengers who sailed from Liverpool in 1635 
on the Ship Defence in command of Capt. Bostock, the name of 
Edward Colburn appears. His home was in Wilts County, 
England, and when, at the age of seventeen, he arrived in 
Boston, he went to Ipswich and was employed by Nathaniel 
SaltonstaU, who owned a large estate in that town, and who 
later committed the management of the farm to him. The plan 
of the town of Ipswich does not include any farm belonging to 
Edward, although he owned some outlying land. He married 
Hannah, whose surname is not given in the records, but refer- 
ences in private letters lead to the conclusion that her name 
was Rolfe. His neighbor, Samuel Varnum, had purchased in 
1668, a tract of land in what was known as "The Wilderness 


north of the Merrimac, " which later became Dracut. Large 
tracts of land in this vicinity were for sale and probably in- 
fluenced by his neighbor Varnum at Ipswich he purchased a 
tract as already described in a former chapter. As the Indians 
were troublesome, he occupied a garrison house near the river, 
and with his wife and children, who were born at Ipswich, he 
removed here in 1669. His children were Edward, John, 
Robert, Thomas, Daniel, Hannah, Ezra, Joseph, and Lydia. 
The greater part of the Coburns and Colburns in the United 
States descend from the six younger brothers, Edward" being 
killed in King Philip's war in 1675, as already recorded. 
The descendants of Edward and Hannah had been promi- 
nent in pi^blic affairs in town and state. In the lists of those 
who served in the different wars which have occurred since the 
settlement of the town, the name of this family appears defend- 
ing the rights and liberties of the country. On the Roll of 
Honor the names of 33 Coburns appear as serving in the War 
of the Revolution. 

The descendants of Edward^ are recorded in "The Genealogy 
of the Colburn-Coburn Families," published in 1913. His sons 
were Edward Jr. born 1642, who, in 1675, was killed by the 
Indians. This was during King Philip's war, which was in- 
tended to be a war of extermination of the white settlers. A 
small company of .soldiers who had been sent to Brookfield to 
assist in the suppression of an Indian uprising, while marching 
to a place designated by the Indians for the conclusion of a 
treaty, were attacked by about 200 Indians and Edward Jr. 
with others were killed. 

John, the .second son, born 1644, married Hannah Reed. 
In the division of land made by his father while living, John re- 
ceived a lot on the river, and as many of his descendants lived 
in Dracut he probably settled here. Robert, bom about 1666, 
married Mary Bishop of Chelmsford. Although he received his 
share in the Webb purchase, he sold, in 1700, the year before his 
death, his share to his brother Daniel. His home was in Bev- 
erly, where his children were born. The descendants of Robert 
are found in nearly all of the states, few, if any, ever living in 
Dracut. There have been men of great ability among them 
one of whom deserves particular mention. This was Foster 


D. Coburn, who was in the eighth generation. He ser\-ed in the 
Civil War in an Illinois regiment and at its close he went to 
Kansas City, Kansas, where he engaged in farming, which be- 
came his life work. Recognizing the need of better methods of 
farming and the opportunities for advancement in the service 
he made a study of the business of farming and wrote exten- 
sively on the subject, some of his subjects being "Alfalfa," 
"Swine in America," "The Helpful Hen," "Cow Culture," 
"Corn and Sorghums," and many others. He became State 
Secretary of Agrculture, a position which he has held several 
times. He has had no ambition for holding political office, re- 
fusing the nomination for Governor of the State, declining the 
appointment which was offered him of U. S. Senator and of a 
position in the Cabinet as National Secretary of Agrculture. 
"Hampton Magazine" says: "In the Agricultural Colleges of 
Australia, where his books are used in the courses of instruction, 
in all the great farm institutes of the Middle West, among 
authorities everj-where, Coburn of Kansas is the biggest and 
safest authority of the century." 

In the line of Robert in the seventh generation we find Zerah 
Colburn, Vermont's famous mathematical prodigy, whose birth 
occurred in Cabot, Sept. 1, 1804. At the age of six years he was 
described as being "surprisingly gifted as an arithmetical cal- 
culator." Having been widely exhibited in Vermont, his pre- 
cocity attracted attention elsewhere and he was taken on an 
extended tour. Boston people found he could answer problems 
sooner, much sooner, than they could be done on paper. On 
short notice and without pencil or paper he found the number 
of seconds in 2,000 years. Observers said he computed the 
number of seconds in 11 years in less than four seconds. Square 
and cube roots he extracted with unexplainable ease. Skeptics 
failed to dumfound him and wherever he went he found that 
his reputation had preceded him. 

Carrying letters of introduction, the boy went to England, 
Scotland and Ireland. Learned profesors received him with 
acclaim. When asked to square 888,888, he gave the correct 
result in 12 figures and then multiplied the product by 49. 
Colburn appears to have had a strangle hold on factoring. He 
could give all the factors of many large numbers. Prominent 


mathematicians, baffled by his consistency in replying to rapid 
fire questions in arithmetic, gave him a certain number of 10 
figures. Mentally and with little loss of time he found the 
only two factors which it had. It was said to him that his 
marvelous powers combined rapidity, remarkable accuracy and 
unfailing menory. Unconsciously, sometimes, while doing his 
most difficult tasks, he would go into bodily contortions, a cir- 
cumstance to which his observers attached great importance. 

That he should have turned his genius to financial account 
was not uncharacteristic of human nature. Money and fame 
came to him at his beckoning and he lived to accomplish a good 
many things that were worth while, but students of this wonder- 
ful calculator love best to read of his earlier years before his 
public demonstrations were made for gain. In one way or 
another and at divers times in an eventful career he received 
the foundation for a broad education at the Westminster school 
in England, the Royal college in Paris and at the University of 
Vermont. He became a minister and preached in Vermont 
towns for nine years. Death overtook him in 1839 while he 
was a professor of languages at Norwich, Conn. 

The third son of Edward was Thomas, who was married twice 
and to whom thirteen children were born. He received a por- 
tioji of the Evered purchase and the Satchell land which was 
deeded to him by his father. His home was probably in Dracut. 

DanieP, the fourth son of Edward^, married Sarah Blood, 
a granddaughter of Ma.ior Simon Willard, who was a noted 
Indian fighter in King Philip's war in 1647. Major Willard 
was one of the Commissioners, who, in 1652, was appointed to 
locate the northern boundary of the Colony of Massachusetts 
Bay, where his initials of "S. W." are to be found on the 
famous Endicott Rock at the Weirs. Daniel's wife's home was 
at Concord in this state, and after ten years' residence in Dra- 
cut, he purchased land in the first named town where, after 
1697, his three youngest children were born. His nine children, 
with the exception of the youngest, settled in Dracut. Ezra^, 
the fifth son, married Hannah Varnum, of Ipswich, and, in com- 
mon with his brothers, receiving a portion of the Evered and 
Satchell land from his father, he lived in Dracut, where many 
of the descendants of his six children settled. Joseph-, the 


youngest son of Edward, received from his father his share in 
the lands already mentioned and in addition he received by 
will the garrison house now known as the Durkee House. He 
was the one selected to care for his father in his declining years. 
Although his home was in Draeut, there are only a small num- 
ber of his descendants in town. There is but one representative 
in town of John^, viz Hon. Arthur W Colburn who is in the 
ninth generation. None of the descendants of Robert^ settled 
in Draeut. Of the nine children of DanieP, only two sons had 
families. Of the descendants of later years, Elizabeth, Augus- 
tus, Erastus, Charles F. and Phineas are dead; the brothers 
Gilbert Sylvester, George D. and Silas R. the latter the com- 
piler of this history, also Lyman, of East Draeut, and the 
brothers Otis P. and Oliver J., at present residing in town. 

These comprise all those who claim descent from DanieP and 
lived in Draeut. Among the descendants of Thomas'", special 
mention should be made of Rev. Isaac D. Colburn, in the sev- 
enth generation, who became interested in foreign missionary 
work, and in 1863, with his wife, sailed for Burmah, called at 
that time Farther India. Of his seven children six were born 
at different stations in India, viz. Maulmain, Amherst, Tavoy 
and Rangoon, the yoiuigest being born after his return to Amer- 
ica which, on account of ill health, occurred in 1880. In this 
line were the brothers George B.'^ and Frank'^ well known in 
Lowell, natives of Draeut and sons of George W.'', who was 
an able and prominent citizen of Draeut. In this line was 
Charles B.^ who established the paints and oil business in Lowell, 
also Joseph B. V.^, a resident of Varnum Avenue. 

The descendants of Ezra^ include several families who lived 
in Draeut. Of those who were prominent, one line at least can 
be located on their farms. SamueP lived near his grandfather's 
garrison house on Varnum Avenue, Jonathan* lived at New 
Boston Village on the farm lately owned by John W. Peabody. 
His sons, SauP, Jonathan^ and Micah^, occupied farms in the 
same village. The names of SauP and Thaddeus^ are on the 
Roll of Honor, the former on his 18th birthday being engaged in 
battle. They were very young when enlisting, as Thaddeus was 
three years younger than Saul. Both returned and settled in 
New Boston Village where their descendants lived. SauP Jr. 


was in the war of 1812 and held the office of the Matross. He 
served in a Billerica Company under Capt. Isaac Barrows in the 
artillery. His office requiring him to assist the gunners in 
loading, firing and sponging the cannon and to march with the 
store wagon as guard and assistant. The descendants of Ezra^ 
in Dracut are Horatio Jesse, and Elmer W., who are great 
grandsons of SauF. Roekwood D. and Henry G., great grand- 
sons of Thaddeus^, and Lovell W. grandson of Micah-''. Capt. 
Peter Coburn was of this line, but for many years has had no 
descendants of the name in Dracut. None of the male line 
have lived in Dracut in the later years who could claim Joseph^ 
as their ancestor. 

One of the descendants of Joseph, the youngest son of Ed- 
ward^ is Abner in the sixth generation who was the son of 
Eleazer, he was born in Tyngsboro, but, with his parents, re- 
moved to Canaan, Maine, now included in the town of Skow- 
hegan. Soon after reaching his twenty-first year, he was en- 
gaged in school teaching and surveying. In 1830, he engaged 
in lumbering with his father and brother. Philander, and this 
became the life work of these sons. They purchased thousands 
of acres of western woodlands, and by judicious management 
became millionaires. As a public man his services in places of 
trust were conducted in a highly honorable manner. In 1862, he 
was nominated for Governor of Maine and elected, receiving 
4000 votes more than were cast for his opponents. "He was 
one of the loyal War Governors who held up the hands of 
Lincoln in those troublous times. He was Governor in fact 
as well as in name, and there was no power behind the throne. 
The business of the state was conducted on strict business prin- 
ciples with the same integrity which characterized the man in 
all the relations of life." ["Hist, of Coburn Family."] 
At his death his public bequests exceeded one million dollars. 

Deacon Joshua Colburn was born in Dracut, being in the 
seventh generation from Edward^. He succeeded his father 
Dea. Joshua, Sr. as an officer in the church. After his marriage 
with Hannah Tenney, he resided in New Hampshire, but a 
brother who had settled on the home farm prefering other 
business, he removed to Dracut, where his death occurred in 
1886. He was a man whose influence, whether exerted in home 


life or in public, was always for good. His public duties were 
those connected with the church and the affairs of the district 
school which were performed with good judgment. During 
his life, he made additions to the number of acres which com- 
prised the original farm which at his death he left to his 
son, Selden. 

Deacon Selden Colburn, his son, was bom in Dracut, Dec. 
28, 1849. He married, in 1875, Jane, daughter of John and 
Jane Murkland. He was educated in the Dracut schools, and 
as his inclinations were for farming he entered upon the farm 
duties which occupied his time and attention until his death 
which occurred Feb. 15, 1914. Long experience and love of his 
chosen vocation enabled him to conduct the business of the farm 
in a successful manner. Wliile not seeking public office, he was 
chairman of the school board, an office for which he was espe- 
cially qualified owing to his executive ability, which he possessed 
in a marked degree. He was devoted to the work of the church 
holding the office once filled bj^ his progenitors. In 1909 he 
married for his second wife Lavina McCuteheon, daughter of 
William and Margaret. 

Arthur W. Colburn, his son, was born Dec. 1, 1877, and at- 
tended the public schools of Dracut. He inherited a love for the 
science of agriculture and entered the New Hampshire Agri- 
cultural College, graduating in 1897, receiving the title of 
Bachelor of Science. He is an active member of the Center Con- 
gregational Church in which he has been deeply interested and 
the duties of the offices connected with the church he has per- 
formed in an acceptable manner. He is a member of Central- 
ville Lodge, I. 0. 0. F. and of Dracut Grange, at one time holding 
the office of Master of the Grange. In town affairs he has been a 
member of the school committee, and of the board of selectmen 
and assessors. In 1909, he was appointed collector of taxes, and 
this office he still holds. As Representative to the General 
Court, he was a member of the House in 1915 and 1916, and 
the three years following he was a member of the Senate. In 
the many offices he has held, he has shown good executive ability 
combined with rare judgement and a thorough acquaintance 
with the duties which he has been called upon to perform. 


George W. Coburn was the youngest son of Gen. Simon and 
Molly Varnum Coburn. He received his education in the 
Centralville and Bradford Academies. He possessed good ex- 
ecutive ability, which was recognized by the town, and he per- 
formed the duties which were required of him as a town officer 
in a manner acceptable to the citizens of Dracut. He was 
chosen to represent the town at the General Court in 1853 and 
1854, and was active in introducing measures of great benefit 
to the Commonwealth. Upon the organization of the U. S. 
Internal Revenue system in 1862, he was appointed assistant 
assessor and later Deputy collector, offices which he filled for 
16 years. He was general referee and advisor in cases of dis- 
pute, and was always ready with words of sympathy and advice 
to anyone who was in trouble. He was an earnest advocate of 
temperance and used his influence in the cause. In his later 
years he engaged in real estate and insurance business, which 
was his occupation at the time of his death. 


The name is derived from the Latin word Clemens, meaning 
mild, meek, gentle. The family descends from Albert Clements, 
Marshal of Prance in 1183. The Dracut family is descended 
from Robert, who came from England early in the year 1642. 
He landed at Salisbury and proceeded to Haverhill with his 
family, consisting of wife and children. He was the first De- 
puty of the town to the General Court and until 1654 was 
associate judge and County Commissioner. Of the succeeding 
generations but little is known except a genealogical record. 
Robert^, born in 1624, married Elizabeth Faun or Fane. Rob- 
ert^ married Elizabeth Palmer. Nathaniel* married Eleanor 
Coburn, daughter of Daniel-. He was the first of the name to 
reside in Dracut. He came into possession of one or more of 
the long narrow lots above CoUinsville between Beaver Brook 
and Long Pond, which was a part of the Grant of 1693. This 
included the present Clement farm and the Hill farm which 
adjoins it on the north. His house stood on the southerly slope 
of the hill on which the buildings now stand, and reference is 
made to it in the chapter relating to the establishment of the 


province line. He divided his farm giving the northern half 
to his son, David, and the southern half to Daniel. He was 
probably buried on the knoll north of the present Oakland cem- 
etery, described in the chapter relating to cemeteries. 

DanieP married Eunice Hunt, the name on the town records 

being spelled Unis. David^ married Molly , two of their 

sons, Isaac and David Jr. serving in the Revolution. Moses", 
son of Daniel^, born Sept. 24, 1758, married, in 1781, Mrs. 
Rachel Perham, of Dunstable. When sixteen years of age he 
was at the Battle of Bunker Hill and his musket is in existence 
with the letters M. C. cut in the stock. Asa'', son of Moses, was 
born Sept. 28, 1784. He was a captain in the militia and mar- 
ried June 6, 1812, Elizabeth Wilson of Pelham, N. H. He 
married for second wife Mrs. Delia Marland of Windham, N. 
H. Asa* was born May 8, 1813, and married Nov. 30, 1837, 
Hannah J. Peabody, of Methuen. Inheriting the Clement farm, 
he pursued the occupation of farmer. He became interested in 
horticulture, and by careful study of this branch of farming, 
he became verj' successful in fruit raising and the growing of 
trees, and grape vines. He was one of the original members 
of the Middlesex North Agricultural Society, serving as presi- 
dent from Sept. 25, 1867 to Sept.. 20, 1869, and for eight years 
was a delegate to the State Board of Agriculture. He was 
interested in the Farmers' Institute, before which he read es- 
says on farming which he had prepared. He was an active 
member of the Pawtucket Church, serving as deacon and Sun- 
day school superintendent. As a member of the Board of Se- 
lectmen and the school committee, he rendered valuable serv- 
ice to the town. In 1869 he represented the district in the 
General Court. Five of the name served in the Revolution. 
The children of Asa^ were Arthur M. now living in Dracut, 
Dr. George, Mrs. Warren C Hamblett and Mrs. Joseph M. 


The name is derived from the French Chever, which means 
to master or overcome. The first of the name in the country 
was Ezekiel, who was a famous master in the Boston Latin school 


and the name Ezekiel was frequent in the later generations. 
The Cheevers were in Dracut before the time of the division and 
allotment of the Reserved Lands of 1720. 

Nathaniel received the third lot in the range north of the 
Cobiirn New Meadows lying between Beaver Brook and Island 
Pond ; also the fifteenth lot on the river. He died Sept. 4, 1762. 
His brother Ezekiel married Hannah Phillips, of Marblehead, 
in 1738. Their son, Ezekiel, married Mrs. Martha Hall in 1764 
and he served in the Revolutionary War. Their son, Ezekiel, 
born in 1776, married in 1804 Elizabeth Gayge of Pelham, N. 
H., and they were the parents of the elderly ladies, Hannah 
and Eliza, whose death occurred in recent years. 

John, a brother of the last named Ezekiel married in 1798 
Isbell Malooue, as spelled in the town records, a daughter of 
William and Sarah Malone the cellar of whose house may be 
seen on the top of Loon, more properly, Malone 's hill. Seven 
children were born, two of whom, Oliver and Elbridge Gerry, 
will be remembered by the older residents of the town. 

The first Cheever house was built in what is now a pasture 
north of the farm buildings formerly owned by C. H. Stickney. 
In accordance with an early custom it was located near a spring 
of water, from which they could obtain their supply until wells 
could be dug. It was thought to have peculiar medicinal prop- 
erties and still furnish water of a superior quality. At the 
time of location of this house the highways had not been laid 
out and the ways leading to the ferries were by paths but upon 
the allotment of Reserved Land and the town ways being ac- 
cepted this house with others in similar situations was aban- 
doned and a new house built on the public road. Thus it is 
understood what is meant by the location of cellars in the 
woods and pastures with no apparent means of reaching a high- 

The present Cheever house on the Stickney farm was built 
about the time of the Revolution. The farm is supposed to 
include the north end of some of the river lots granted to the 
Cheevers in 1721, and absence of early deeds leads to this con- 
clusion. During the Revolution a deserter from the British 
army found employment on this farm and one day while en- 
gaged in threshing, a file of soldiers who were hunting for de- 


serters were seen on the road which now leads to Lawrence. 
Knowing his danger a messenger hurried to notify him of their 
approach, upon which he ran out of the barn across the fields 
and hid in the woods where he remained two weeks, until the 
danger was past, being supplied with food by sympathetic 


The word Crosbj' is composed of two words Cross and By, 
meaning the town of the cross. Simeon Crosby was born in 
1608, and sailed in 1635 for America in the ship Susan and 
Ellen, settling in Cambridge, where he died in 1639. One of his 
descendants, named Jonathan^, lived at Billerica but later re- 
moved to Dracut, and married. Mar. 21, 1743, Rebecca, daughter 
of Dea. Edward Coburn^. The children of Jonathan^ and 
Rebecca were: 

Jonathan, born Aug. 5, 1744, married Mrs. Hannah Goodhue, 
daughter of Zachariah and Sarah Goodhue. 

Josiah, born Jan. 11, 1748, died young. 

Bette, born Mar. 12, 1752. 

Benjamin, born Aug. 12, 1754. Killed at battle of Bunker 

Josiah, born June 29, 1758, married Mrs. Thankful Hildreth. 
The term ' ' Mrs. ' ' is not a proof that she had ever been married 
as this was applied to single women also. 

Jonathan, Sr., Jonathan, Jr., Benjamin, and Josiah are on 
the Roll of Honor. 

A son of Jonathan and Rebecca, also named Jonathan^, mar- 
ried, in 1772, Hannah, daughter of Zachariah and Sarah (Rich- 
ardson) Goodhue, and is on record on the town books as Jona- 
than, Jr. The father and son both served in the Revolution. 
Jonathan^ died Oct. 20, 1813, and his son Jonathan born July 
10. 1777, married Oct. 18, 1810, Hannah daughter of William 
Wood, who owned the farm which his son conveyed to the town 
for a town farm. It was probably Jonathan^ who built the 
house in New Boston village, which, about 1860, was removed 
and the present one built. 

Jonathan^ and Hannah (Goodhue) were married Nov. 26, 
1772. Their children were: 


Haimali, born Sept. 20, 1773, married David Abbott. 

Jonathan, born July 10, 1777 married Hannah Wood. 

John, born March 3, 1781 married Meribah Rowell. 

Rhoda, born May 18, 1783. 

Phineas, born Apr. 24, 1788. 

Jonathan'* and Hannah Wood were married Oct. 18, 1810. 
Their children were: 

Jonathan Cotton, born Aug. 5, 1811, married Lydia Cheever. 

Hannah, born March 10, 1813, married Micah Colburn, Jr. 

Maria, born June 20, 1815, never married. 

Sewall Wood, born Nov. 10, 1817. 

Martha, born Jan. 4, 1821, married Thomas Dana Cobum. 

Benjamin, married Arvila Kejes. 

The highway now passing Rockwood Coburn's house formerly 
ran several rods further to the east in what is now a field, and 
on this highway there was a house which was probably the 
home of Jonathan^ ; as it became the home of Jonathan^ and 
was an old hoiise in the time of Jonathan^. Jonathan^ in his 
later years, 1800, gave a deed of it to his son Jonathan^ mak- 
ing provision for himself during his lifetime. The farm, 
formerly known as the town farm, was owned by Hannah 
Wood and her brother, Samuel P. The farm was divided into 
the eastern and western halves. The line of division was from 
the center of the back of the house across the center of the 
kitchen, the center of the front entrj' and the center of the 
front door. 

At his marriage, Jonathan^ lived on this farm, the eastern, 
half of which he sold in 1831 to the town of Dracut, and 
the same year, Samuel sold the western half. Jonathan^ then 
removed to New Boston, and occupied an old hoiise which 
stood near the site of the present Crosby house owned by his 
brother John, who married Meribah Rowell. It was also the 
home of an unmarried sister, Rhoda. The house was old and 
was torn down before 1860, and the site is now occupied by the 
present house. The cellar of the house in the field was in exis- 
tence until recent years and when the field was cultivated the 
plow would turn out stones bearing the marks of contact with 
wagon wheels. By the laying out of the road passing the house 
built by Thaddeus Coburn, now Rockwood D. Coburn's, the 


road passing the house occupied by Jonathan^ was discontinued, 
this old road very likely ran to Jonathan Coburn house, later 
owned by John W. Peabody. 


This family came to Dracut early, but at what date is not 
known. The vital records of the town give the marriage in 
1758 of Timothy Fry and Hannah Calton of Andover. There 
was a large family of children, among them Jedediah, Timothy 
and Reuben. Jedediah^, also spelt Jedidia, owned the farm 
north of Pleasant Street where Upland and Swain Streets are 
now located, which was later the Swain farm. Timothy, Jr.^, 
was a soldier in the Revolution and he lived at the old house 
now standing on Pleasant Street, opposite Swain Street, later 
known as the Pollard house. He died November 6, 1811. 

Reuben, a brother, was also in the Revolution. 

Enoch's married, September 20, 1806, Polly Ellsworth of 
Gilmanton, N. H. He was a son of Timothy'^. He died Feb- 
ruary 11, 1834, and is buried in the Hildreth Cemetery, where 
his father, Timothy^, is laid. His son was Ellsworth* who was 
a stone mason, and, in 1831, lived in a cottage on Pleasant Street, 
adjoining the Post Office on the east. Timothy*, George* and 
William* went "West and settled there. James* was the only 
son of Enoch to remain in Dracut. He was born November 26, 
1818, and married Harriet Lane. He purchased a house on 
Brookside Street, near the site of the Hamblett saw mill, and 
died at the age of 80. He was a brick layer by trade. 


The name, Fox, is found in Ireland as early as A. D., 1033. 
Previous to this time and before it was anglicised the name was 
Shanach. It is one of the rare instances in which the surname 
is the name of an animal. Before the seventeenth century the 
"Book of Martyrs" was written by one Fox and this book 
and the Bible were the only books to which Bunyan had access 
when he wrote "The Pilgrim's Progress." During the same 
century, the name, in England, was spelled Fawkes, as it is 
recorded in history that in 1604 an attempt was made to 


destroy the House of Parliament with the king by storing in 
the cellar barrels of gun powder to be exploded when Parliament 
was in session. The plot was discovered and Guy Fawkes, as 
leader, and others were arrested. For many years the day 
was celebrated annually in England, and even since that time 
the fifth of November has been known as Gunpowder Day. 
There were processions, illuminations and other features and a 
song was sung in which were the lines, 

"Happy the man, happy the day 

That caught Guy Fawkes in the middle of his play." 
"Nov. 5 was celebrated in some of the Northern Colonies 
by fireworks, by burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes or by carrying 
about the village two hideous pumpkin faces supposed to 
represent the Pope & the Devil and then consigning them to a 
bonfire. ' ' 

The English ancestor of the family was Thomas^ who, in 
1640, married Rebecca — and died in 1658. His son, Elijhalet^, 
born in England, married, in 1665, Mary Wheeler, who died in 
1678 and three years later he married Mary Hunt, daughter of 
John Stone and widow of Isaac Hunt. NathanieP was born in 
Concord, February 18, 1683, and his death is recorded in the 
Dracut records as occurring December 20, 1765, "in 82d year," 
presumably in Dracut, but Cutter, in his ' ' Middlesex Families, ' ' 
states that he died at Concord where his gravestone can be 
found. He removed to Dracut, July 31, 1714. 

When the Reserved Land was divided in 1721, he was 
assigned the eleventh lot on the river, east of Belcher's line. 
As these lots cannot be identified by their exact boundary lines, 
allowing an average width for the first ten lots would place 
this lot between McManmon's greenhouses and Varnum's 
Landing, now Bell Grove. There is no record showing that he 
ever lived on this lot, but as each one had lots assigned them 
according to value, it was often the case that more than one 
lot was given them, so a second lot was laid out to Nathaniel 
Fox and Onesiphorous Marsh. This was the first lot in the 
range of lots on Marsh Hill, bounded on the north by the 
Coburn New Meadows. Marsh sold his share to Fox. The lot 


(Shl Psge 388) 


is now owned and occupied by Frank P.* and Clinton W.' at 
the north end, and Eugene C* at the south end of the original 

NathanieP lived on another range of lots known as the 200 
acres and lying east of Draeut Center. His first wife was 
Hannah Merriam, to whom he was married January 11, 1710. 
They had six children, three of whom were born in Draeut. 
For a second wife, he married, October 18, 1760, Elizabeth 
Brown. Isaac*, son of Nathaniel was born in Concord, Febru- 
ary 17, 1712. He was twice married. His first wife, whom he 
married in 1738, was Abigail Prescott. He married the second 
wife, Hannah L. Blanchard, in 1755. His daughter, Hannah, 
born in 1746, married, in 1768, Ebenezer Varnum, whose farm 
was formerly owned by Isaac*, and afterward by Prescott 
Varnum, later by Archibald 0. Varnum, and in more recent 
years by George D. Coburn. 

David*, son of Nathaniel, born in Di'acut, March 19, 1717, 
married Mary Colburn, great-granddaughter of Edward^. The 
line is Edward^, Thomas^, Josiah^, Mary*. They had nine 
children. David received from his father, Nathaniel, the farm 
on Marsh Hill, which has since remained in the Fox family. 
He is on record as dying "in the army at Senecteda," Sept. 24, 

His son, David*, succeeded him on the farm. He was born 
July 8, 1751, and married Sarah, daughter of Capt. Stephen 
Russell. He, with his brother, Josiah, served in the Revolution- 
ary Army and died in 1832. His son, Russell^, married Hepsi- 
beth Peabody, and purchased the Amasa Peabody farm on 
Marsh Hill which he left to his son, Dana R''. who was succeeded 
by his son, Daniel D.^, and he, in turn, by his son, Everett B.^, 
the present owner. 

Samuel", son of David, was born September 7, 1786, and 
was twice married. His first wife was Abi Wilson, and his 
second was Dorcas, daughter of Eliphalet* Fox who was a 
brother of David*. He came into possession of his father's 
farm which he later exchanged with his nephew, Darius L.'', 
son of RusseU, and received from him the Levi Jones farm, 
which was originally the southerly end of the lot assigned to 
Nathaniel in the division of 1721. This was later owned by 


his son, Samuel Adams' Fox, and now by his son, Eugene C* 
Darius hJ, at his death, left the farm to his son, Eben T.*, at 
whose death it became the property of his widow, Martha (Hill) 
Fox, and her son, Clinton W.^ 

Eliphalet^, son of David, Sr.'*, was born February 27, 1749 ; 
married, November 13, 1770, Elizabeth, daughter of Capt. 
Stephen Russell, a sister of the wife of David, Jr.; they had 
twelve or thirteen children. They lived at the Russell house 
on Pleasant Street, east of Hovey Square, which is now standing. 
The oldest son, Eliphalet, Jr.«, married Rhoda, daughter of 
Jonathan and Bette (Hildreth) Taj'lor, and they were the 
parents of eight children, one of whom, Margaref, lived on 
Sladen Street and died in 1907, aged 93. One of her sisters, 
Harriet, married Life Webster, who lived at the westerly end of 
Dracut, which was annexed to Lowell. 

Peter^, son of EUphalet^, had a son Jonathan^, who lived on 
the Methuen Road, also several daughters, one of whom married 
Nathan Thissell, Sr. Jonathan*, son of Nathaniel was born 
April 28, 1719, and, in 1746, married Mary Barron. He died 
October 17, 1753, and his widow married William Colburn, Jr. 
He received from his father a farm of seventy-five acres to 
which he added by purchase. After 1800, it was owned by 
Reuben Jones until his death in 1808, when it ceased to be 
cultivated and is nearly covered by a growth of trees. The 
cellar is now in an open piece of ground about three-fourths of 
a mile south of the George Eastman farm, lately owned by 
George R. Fox and northeast of Loon Hill Road. Daniel*, son 
of Nathaniel, was born February' 8, 1722, and died September 
20, 1769. His first wife was Mary Jones ; his second, Mrs. Mary 
Durin, and his third, Mrs. Ruth Jaquith. He inherited the 
homestead and succeeded his father as deacon of the church. 

In the piiblie library of the town there is an old book, a 
combination of diary and account book, which contained a 
record of the children of Daniel*. "Jesse, born 1747-8, Feb 8. 
Abijah, born July 24, 1750. Jacob and Rachel, twins, born 
Oct. 1, 1752. Lydia, born March 30, 1755. Joel, born May 6, 
1757, children of Daniel and Mary (Jones). Molle, born Oct. 14, 
1761, daughter of Daniel and Mary Durin. Elijah, bom 
Dec. 28, 1766, son of Daniel and Ruth (Jaquith)." 


Elijah^ married Mrs. Sarah Butler, and lived at Pelham, 
N. H. Abijah^ and Joel* settled in Draeut, the first named 
on the homestead and the second, JoeP, settled on the Curtis 
farm, which adjoins the home farm and which was owned by 
his son Joel*, and grandson, James'', who with his sister, Lydia, 
remained there during their lives. Abijah* married Mercy 
Harris. He was a deacon in the church and served in the 
Revolutionary army. He had five children, the youngest, Capt. 
Nathaniel", who will be remembered by the older residents of the 
town, inherited the farm. 

The old house stood on the side of the road, as was the 
custom in those days, door yards being considered superfluous. 
This house was demolished and Nathaniel built a new one, 
placing it away from the road on the present site. This was 
afterwards burned and the present one erected. He married 
Fanny Richardson, daughter of Samuel, Jr., and there were 
eleven children, none of whom are now living. Milton' suc- 
ceeded his father on the farm, which he enlarged by purchasing 
adjoining land. At his death, the farm passed to his son, 
Fred A.^, and now is owned by his son Harold M.'* Nine of 
this name were in the Revolution. 

Capt. Nathaniel Fox, the sixth in descent from the English 
ancestor Thomas, came into possession of the farm which was 
owned by his ancestors. He was a practical farmer, ready to 
adopt new methods and to keep pace with modern improve- 
ments. He was not anxious to hold public office, although when 
his services were required in any duties, he accepted the trust 
and by his sound sense and good judgment performed these 
duties in a satisfactory manner. Possessing good executive 
ability, he was placed in command of a company of militia 
thus receiving the title of captain. Honored and respected 
by all, he passed from earth full of years and regretted by his 

Milton Fox was the son of Capt. Nathaniel and Fanny 
Fox, and became the owner of the home farm. Inheriting his 
father's good judgment, he continued improvements which had 
caused the farm to be a model farm and by purchase enlarged 
the farm to which he gave his time and study. He was es- 
pecially successful in the raising of cattle and the production 


of milk for the market. His broad acres provided large quan- 
tities of hay, which found a ready market in the neighboring 
city. He also raised many acres of cabbages which he sent to 
the Boston market. In common with his father, he did not 
seek public office, but was deeply interested in the affairs of 
the town endeavoring by his influence and example to promote 
its best interests. 

Fred A. Fox was born March 25, 1846, and died May 22, 
1907. He married, January 12, 1882, Mary Lizzie, daughter 
of Edward and Phebe (Hayes) Richardson. He became the 
owner of the large farm owned by his father, Milton, at his 
death, thus being the sixth in descent from the original owner, 
Nathaniel. He was a student at Gilmanton, N. H. Academy 
and the Colb}' Academy at New London, N. H. Completing his 
studies, he returned to Dracut to become the manager of his 
father's farm, thus gaining experience which enabled him, 
when owner, to became a successful farmer. He had no incli- 
nation to hold office in town or state, although interested in 
the welfare of the town. His children and grandchildren form 
the seventh and eighth generations to occupy the ancestral acres. 

Darius L. Fox was a descendant in the seventh generation 
of Edward Colburn and Nathaniel Fox. Exchanging farms 
with his uncle, Samuel, he lived on the farm which has been 
owned and occupied by the descendants of Nathaniel ever since 
the laying out of the reserved land. The good spirit of his 
Revolutionary ancestors, David Fox, Jr., and Capt. Stephen 
Russell was shown in his quiet, unobstrusive life. He attended 
faithfully to whatever public duties he was called upon to per- 
form. He will be remembered as a good citizen and a generous, 
accommodating neighbor ready to help in all good work. 


The name in the earlier days was spelled Goodhew and 
Goodhugh, and within the memory of the present generation 
was pronounced Goody. William^, when twenty-four years of 
age came from England and settled at Ipswich. He had two 
sons, Joseph' and William, Jr.^. Ebenezer^, son of Joseph, 
was born 1685 and died 1747. He was the first of the name to 
live in Dracut. At the division of the reserved land in 1721, 


he was assigned the first lot on the Merrimack River, east of 
Belcher's line. It was a tract of forty-six acres and was that 
land lying east of Beacon Street, reaching to the river. He 
held the offices of selectman, in 1712, and town treasurer, in 
1714. He was an owner of other tracts of land as his name 
appears affixed to deeds shows. His son, Zachariah*, born 1725, 
was in the Revolution, also his grandson, Zachariah^. The 
Goodhue home was at the Navy Yard village, where Zachariah, 
Jr., had an interest in the saw and grist mill which stood at the 
east end of the dam, where a one-story brick building is now 
located. May 1, 1793, he conveyed to Joshua Bradley 24/48 
of saw mill and the same proportion of land "on which the 
saw mill stands where the grist mill formerly stood lately 
owned by Capt Hale deceased and myself." Aside from this 
ownership, the Goodhue family were farmers. 

The later families of this name, in this village, were des- 
cendants of Zachariah''. They purchased outlying land and 
kept a large stock of cattle and horses. Enoch F. was an en- 
terprising man and at different periods was farmer, butcher 
and tavern keeper, holding a lease for a short time of the B. F. 
Varnum tavern at the Center, where the fire department build- 
ing now stands. His sons, Carlos A. and Cornelius, succeeded 
him on the farm and later Henry, the oldest son of Enoch F., 
had his home there. Henry, in his younger days, was engaged in 
whale fishing, voyaging to the Pacific Ocean. 

Besides those already mentioned two more of the name of 
Goodhue served in the Revolution. The family which settled 
in the neighborhood of the paper mill was descended from 
one of the sons of William^, viz., William, Jr. The first of 
this line living in Dracut was Moses who was in the fourth 
generation; born, 1752; died, 1824. His sous, Aaron and 
Daniel, succeeded him in the ownership of the mill property 
as described in the chapter relating to the paper mill. 

Ralph Goodhue, formerly living in the Kenwood district, 
was a descendant of Joseph^ another son of the immigrant. He 
was in the eighth generation, a son of Wadleigh', but none of his 
ancestral line resided in Dracut. He married, September 5, 
1869, Juline Frances Miner. His daughter. Amy H., was the 
first librarian in the town library. 



Richard Hall, in 1676, was a freeman living in Bradford, 
and the line commences with him. His son, Richard^, was born 
February 6, 1676, and married Mehitable Barker, his son, 

Ephraim^, was born February 10, 1717, and married Eunice . 

Ephraim^ was the first of the name to settle in Dracut, and his 
farm, located on the road to Methuen, became the westerly part 
of the late George Kelley's farm. His son, Ephraim*, was born 
September 3, 1741, and married Lydia, daughter of Stephen 
Russell. The date of intentions of marriage is March 9, 1765. 
He purchased property on Marsh Hill in the range of land in 
reserved lands, bordering on Colburn's new meadow.s, which 
remained in the family four generations. 

His son, Phineas^ was bom January 1, 1768, and married 
Patty, daughter of Ezekiel and Martha Cheever. He inherited 
his father's farm, which he transferred by deed to his son, 
Ira", who was born September 30, 1804, and married April 26, 
1831, Polly, daughter of Joel and Hannah Fox. Ira was active 
in the affairs of the town. He was interested in its development 
and as a town officer he performed the duties with good judg- 
ment and for its best interest. A descendant of the Revo- 
lutionary soldiers, Ephraim Hall and Capt. Stephen Russell, 
he inherited the privileges of that class of men who foiight to 
establish our independence, and in his life he practiced those 
principles while jjerforming his duties as a citizen and town 

Four of his children arrived at maturity, viz., Ira Volney, 
who resided at Acton; Leroy C, a merchant; Gayton M., for 
many years town clerk of Dracut, and Oscar A., superintendent 
of the Gage Ice Co. of Lowell. The family was represented in 
the Revolution by Ephraim, Sr.*, and his three sons, Ephraim, 
Jr., Asa and Moses. Three more of this name are on the Roll 
of Honor as serving in the war. 


William Hamblett was born in England and married 
Sarah Hubbard, a widow. The date of his arrival in this 


countrj' is not known, but in 1642 he was at Watertown, where 
he was one of the proprietors. He removed to Billerica in 1656 
and to Woburn in 1679. His son, Jacob^, was born at Cam- 
bridge about 1645, and married Hannah Parker. His son, 
Joseph^, born at Woburn in 1681, married Hannah Cullen. 
Their son, Joseph*, born at Woburn in 1708, married Susan 
Durrant and removed to Pelham, N. H. He was one of the 
first to settle on the territory afterward called Pelham. He 
was the first of the name to reside in Dracut, where in 1745, 
his son, John^, was born, who, in 1772, married Elizabeth 
Perham of Dunstable. Joseph* owned land on both sides of 
Beaver Brook at Collinsville and operated a saw and gristmill, 
which, in 1773, he sold to his son, John^, who conducted it until 
1789, w^hen he exchanged properties with Isaac Parker, taking 
in exchange the farm formerly owned by Dr. James Abbott. 

The farmhouse, built in the style of the time, was two-story 
with the large chimney in the center and painted red. It 
stood on the Mammoth Road nearly opposite where the tene- 
ments of the American Woolen Company now stand. The 
house, in recent years, was demolished, but its site can be 
found at the present time. There was a family of seven 

John^, Jr., lived in Maine. Life", born, 1780; died, 1874; 
married, 1808, Rachel, daughter of John Bowers. He pur- 
chased the Stanley house at the Navy Yard and was a farmer 
bj' occupation. He, as justice of the peace, transacted legal 
business and served as selectman and held other important offi- 
ces in the town. Hi.s son, Charles'', was a mason by trade, but 
later he became a farmer and purchased the Bradley property 
on Hildreth Street, adjoining the Blanchard Hospital grounds. 
His sons, Albert* and Arthur*, who were also masons reside in 
Dracut. George'', the younger son of Life*, was a blacksmith 
and lived at the Navy Yard, where he, at one time, operated 
the sawmill which stood on the brook below the bridge at the 
mill and between Brookside Street and "New England." 
He had one son, George Eugene*, now deceased. 

Theodore", son of John, was a wheelwright, and built and 
operated the sawmill just mentioned. His sons, Theodore H.'', 
was a millwright, Daniel V.'' was a carpenter and Warren C' 


was a manufacturer. He had other sons and daughters who 
never married. Theodore'' purchased the Garrison House farm 
on Riverside Street, but, retiring from active life, he removed 
to the Parker Varnum House on Varnum Avenue, which he 
had bought. Peter^, son of John, born in 1775, married Polly 
Goodhue, and inherited the homestead at Collinsville. His 
children removed from Draeut. The family was represented 
in the Revolution by Jonathan, who was a drummer boy at 
Bunker Hill. 


The Hildreths came from England before 1643, as at that 
date Richard! Hildreth was admitted as a freeman of the colony 
of Massachusetts Bay. The name has been spelled in different 
ways as many of our names in New England have been changed 
to conform to present usage. A very common way of pro- 
nouncing it was "Hildrick." 

Richard^ settled at Woburu, then called Charlestown 
Village, where he was living at the date above mentioned. 
Ten years later, in company with twenty-eight others, "he 
petitioned Hon. John Endicott and other honorable magistrates 
at Boston for certain grants of land for Chelmford on the 
river Merrimack at a necke of land, nest to Concord river near 
to Pawtucket, it being a very comfortable place to accommodate 
a company of God 's people upon : that may with God 's blessing 
and assistance live comfortably upon and do good in that place 
for church and commonwealth." [Reade's "Hildreth Family."] 

His son, James^, had a son, Ephraim^, who was the first of 
the name in Draeut. In 1709, Ephraim' purchased of the heirs 
of John Alcock 1300 acres. The land on the north side of the 
river was not at first occupied by the Chelmsford settlers, as the 
river seemed to them to be a barrier to prevent settlement. 

In Chelmsford, there were garrison houses and reasonable 
protection from the Indians. In the " Wildernesse " they 
would be exposed to incursions from the savages and the settlers 
were reluctant to overcome these difficulties. The success 
of the Coburn and Varnums, who came from Ipswich, was of 
value to others, as it showed that it was possible to live on the 
north side of the river. 


The Indian War of 1675 was ended and the low price of 
land influenced the Hildreths to become settlers on the north 
side of the river also. The territory from the mouth of Beaver 
brook to Tyng's Island was controlled by the Coburns and 
Varnums; but the Russell grant on the east side of the brook 
was unoccupied. It had been di\'ided in 1687, and the western 
half sold to John Alcock. This became the property of his two 
daughters, one the wife of Benjamin Walker of Boston and the 
other the wife of Ephraim Hunt of Weymouth. Portions of this 
property are in the possession of Ephraim 's descendants. 
North of the 1300 acres mentioned, is the Billerica grant of 500 
acres which he purchased. 

Before settling in Dracut, he was a member of Capt. Tyng's 
Company of Snow Shoe Scouts who were in active service 
against the Indians. He acquired a large property, as after 
giving to his three oldest sons their proportional part of the 
estate before his death, there remained enough for the four 
younger sons. Gen. Reade in his "Hildreth Family" says: 
"The Major directed that his land in Tyngsboro on the Merri- 
mack and his negro boy ' Cuffe ' inventoried at £100 and enough 
lands and credits be sold to pay his debts and funeral charges. 
The inventory included 200 acres of land north side of the 
county road; 100 acres of land on Men-imack River; 50 acres 
of land bought of Gov. Belcher; 150 acres of land known as 
Winthrops Farm ; interest in a corn mill on Beaver brook ; sun- 
dry buildings and saw mill in Tyngs Town ; land and meadows 
west of Gouldings brook," besides a large stock of farm ani- 

His fourth son, Thomas, was in the French and Indian War 
in 1755, and died at Fort Cumberland, Md., Dec. 4, 1755. The 
circumstances of his deatli are related in Gen. Reade 's "Gene- 
alogy of the Hildreth Family." "After the close of the third 
French or King George's War, 1748, the French established a 
line of posts near to the Alleghany mountains, which was the 
cause of George Washington's first, and pacific visit in 1753 
to the French. During the following year, Major George Wash- 
ington marched his command to the locality where Pittsburg 
now stands. The French troops near Fort Duquesne were at 
first surprised and defeated; but later defeated Washington 


and forced him to capitulate and retire from the disputed 
ground then claimed by France. When General Edward Brad- 
dock was commissioned as commander-in-chief of all the English 
forces in North America in September, 1754, he had associated 
with him, as next in command, Governor Shirley and Sir Wil- 
liam Pepperell of Massachusetts. In the spring of 1755, Gen- 
eral Braddock appointed Washington to be one of his aides, 
but declined his advice as well as that of Benj. Franklin re- 
garding the best method of utilizing the services of the raw 
American militia. The rendezous for the combined forces, the 
King's regulars and the colonial troops, was at Fort Cumber- 
land on Wills Creek banks of the Potomac river, Alleghany 
Country, Maryland. In June, 1755, General Braddock marched 
against Fort Duquesne in command of 1000 regulars, 30 sailors 
and 1200 Provincial troops, besides a train of artillery. Gates, 
Gage, Morgan and Mercer, names that were to be famous in 
another war, were there, and there, too, was Ensign Thomas 
Hildreth, son of Major Ephraim Hildreth of Dracut. The de- 
feat and death of Braddock by the French and Indians is a 
matter of history. The demoralized British soldiers who es- 
caped the slaughter by Contrecoiier and DeBeajeu's command 
and their wily allies, July 9, 1755 fled back to Fort Cumberland 
in a wild panic. 

The Pi'oviucial troops protected their retreat and retired in 
a more leisurely manner, fighting from behind trees, just as 
Dumas and DiLigueris did. 

Nearly all of the officers of General Braddock "s regular 
staff were killed or wounded. Ensign Thomas Hildreth was one 
of those who reached Fort Cumberland alive; but there, under 
the gloomy- pines of the dense forest, he died, and received a 
soldier's grave in the tract known to the Indians as the Shades 
of Death." 

Ephraim^ was one of the selectmen of the town, also town 
clerk, and held the office of Major in the militia. It was his 
intention to provide a burial place for the town but as he did 
not arrange for one during his lifetime, his sons, in 1752, gave 
a deed of the land for the Hildreth cemetery in fulfilment of 
the wishes of their father. He had ten children, three of whom 
were active in town affairs. Ephraim^, Jr., held the offices of 


selectman, town clerk and treasurer. Josiah^ succeeded his 
brother in the office of town clerk, then, in 1769, another brother, 
William*, served in the same capacity. In turn was followed 
by William^, Jr., and later by Lieut Israel.^ William-' held the 
rank of Major in the militia. 

The Hildreths were active at the time of the Revolution and 
names of six are found on the Roll of Honor a.s serving in the 
war. William^, Jr., besides holding several town offices was 
-General of the Mass. Militia and in 1809 was elected to the office 
of High Sheriff of Middlesex County. He built the house at 
Hovey Square, now known as the Blanchard hospital. Mieah^, 
son of William*, was town treasurer from 1792 to 1795. Elizah*, 
son of Ephraim, held office in the town. Lieut. IsraeP, son of 
Elijah, held the office of selectman and town clerk, also other 
offices, and in 1793, he represented the town at the General 
Court. He served in the Revolution as a privateer's man. 
Israel*, Jr., became a physician and lived at the homestead 
near the cemetery. Further notice of Dr. Hildreth, a-s relates 
to his medical experience, will be found in the section on the 
physicians of Draeut. He was a staff officer by reason of his 
office as surgeon in the Fifth Regiment of Infantry Middlesex 
Militia Mass. Volunteers, Col. Jefferson Bancroft commander. 
As an orator, his services were in demand at Independence Day 
celebrations. As a man possessing sound sense and good judg- 
ment, he was chosen to protect the interests of the town in 
cases where their rights were threatened. 

The following incident is related of his good nature: He 
owned a field which reached to Beaver Brook, and a townsman, 
plowing in a neighboring field, drove his oxen across the doc- 
tors field to give them water at the brook. The manager of the 
farm remonstrated and reported the facts. Soon after this the 
doctor, meeting the neighbor charged him with trespass which 
the neighbor admitted. The doctor then said: "If the field is 
full of cabbages you are welcome to drive your oxen through 
to the brook as often as you want to do so." 

Fisher Ames' served the town as clerk and treasurer and was 
a Representative to the General Court. He owned the Hil- 
dreth homestead and was a successful farmer. Fisher Ames' 
was the only son who arrived at maturity ; his sisters were Row- 


ena, who married Henrj^ Reade a merchant of Lowell; Sarah 
Jones, who married Gen. Benj. F. Butler: Susan, who married 
William P. Webster, a lawyer; Harriet, who married Franklin 
P. Hurd, Dolly Maria, who married Col. J. M. G. Parker, and 
Laura Wright, who married George H. Pearson who was agent 
at Pearson's Mills .in Draeut. 

Mrs. Rowena Eeade in an interview relating to tlie Hildreth 
family furnished the following information: 

Her grandfather. Squire Israel Hildreth, it was that built 
the Hildreth mansion then the only house, save that of Ryer 
Coburn, in that part of Draeut. There were other houses at the 
west end of the town, that of Col. Ansart, and at the east end 
of the town where Gen. Varnum still lived in the respect which 
his high service for his state and country universally invited. 

Squire Hildreth was a tall man, with black hair which he 
wore with a queue, dark eyes and a commanding manner. He 
had been a privateer in his younger days, and had visited 
Spain and other foreign lands, so that his knowledge gave him 
distinction among his neighbors. One day the gunner of the 
privateer was firing a gun, when he twitched his head as if in 
fear, whereupon Capt. Newman shouted: "You do that again 
and I'll pitch you overboard." Israel Hildreth stepped for- 
ward, and, saluting said: "Captain, let me try; and if I fail 
you can pitch me into the sea." So Israel fired the gun 
with his eye steadily gazing along toward the breach, and was 
promoted to be chief gunner of the craft. But he nevertheless 
was a man of tender sympathies, and never could relate the 
tale of sinking a ship without breaking into tears. 

He wore, on state occasions, knee breeches with silver buckles, 
presented by his old captain. He was a farmer; but directed 
the work done by the men and women whom he employed. 
His son. Dr. Israel Hildreth, and his family lived with the squire 
and shared with him his simple li\'ing. In the fall the cellar 
was filled to overflowing with potatoes, cabbages, turnips, beets, 
carrots and barrels of cider, and the woodsheds were filled with 
logs for the great fireplaces. 

These fireplaces were very spacious, that in the kitchen being 
the largest of all, with its capacious chimney, its crane and its 


flanking brick ovens. Fowls were roasted in tin "kitchins" 
before the fire, or else were hung by strings from pegs in the 
mantle; and all the pots were hung from the crane over the 

When the ovens were to be used, they were filled with fuel 
which was lighted and allowed to burn about two hours. The 
coals and ashes were then swept out, and the loaves of bread, 
or pies, or beans inserted, the doors were closed and the baking 
allowed to proceed uninterrupted until the alloted time had ex- 
pired. Then what appetizing odors permeated the house as 
the oven doors were opened ! ' ' There never was such cooking ; 
nor can there ever be any more," said Mrs. Reade. 

The household duties were simple. There was the making of 
soap and candles, of cheese and butter and preserves, of pickles 
and corned beef, hams and sausages. And there was the weav- 
ing of cloth; for all the men wore home-spvui, and the women, 
too, save that those who could afford it wore cloaks of scarlet 
cloth secured in England. The wool was cut from the sheep in 
the pasture and was carded, spun into warp and yarn, and 
woven into cloth on the loom in the back room. All this was 
done by experts in the several branches, assisted by the members 
of the family. 

In addition to the farm, Squire Hildreth had possession of 
the "Sawpit" on the banks of the river where the Aiken street 
bridge now rests upon its northern pier; and the "hole" was 
the scene of busy seine fishing in the season. It used to be 
quite a diversion for the children to watch the fishermen haul 
in the shad and the salmon; although they were somewhat 
alarmed at the rough play and frolic of the raftsmen who 
gathered there to reconstruct the rafts which had been broken 
for passage through Pawtucket rapids. 

There were no mills on the other side of the river, only a 
few farm houses, with fields and orchards; the future Lowell 
had not even attained to the village stage; for the only village 
was at Middlesex, where the canal and the glass works were. It 
was at Middlesex that the muster was held, a great day for 
old and young; for the young went to .see how the old were 
trained in arms for the defense of their homes and country; 
and the muster always ended in a sham fight, a startling and 


awesome presentment of actual warfare. There were such 
times in those days, what with the boiled chicken and "fixin's," 
and gingerbread in great cakes. And then there were the ped- 
dlers with their trays of sweets, their peppermints and molasses 

There were the training days, too, when the men of each 
town answered the call to arms for a day; and after drill in 
the field the men of Dracut would gather at Blanchard's tavern 
and drink their "flip," a mixture of beer, rum, sugar and water, 
stirred to foamy encouragement with a red hot poker, a sociable 
drink, but somewhat heady. There used to be wrestling bouts 
in the tavern, together with other athletic feats of strength and 
prowess ; but rarely any fighting ; for these farmers were peace- 
ful folk and were only belligerent when their rights were 

Town meeting was another time of relief from work in the 
fields; but in the homes it begat extra endeavor to supply the 
demand of hospitable courtesy; for every house that could 
afford to be so was open and every table was free, and most 
bounteous was the entertainment provided. 

The Hildreths were by nature and training military men. 
In common with other young men of their time, they were 
reqiiired by law to become members of the militia and to de- 
note a certain time each year to military exercises. A study of 
the lives of Richard and his descendants reveal conditions 
which present the names of Hildreth in connection with a 
large number of men holding commissions ranging from ser- 
geant to general. The names of those bearing the commissions 
are as follows: Richard, Sergeant; Elphraim Sr, Ensign; Eph- 
raim, Jr., Major ; William Jr., General ; Thomas, Ensign ; Josiah, 
Captain; Micah, Lieutenant; William, Sr., Major; Israel, 
Lieutenant; James, Lieutenant; Jonathan, Major; Samuel, Cap- 
tain. Among the grandchildren of Dr. Israel Hildreth, but 
not bearing the family name, there were one brigadier general, 
one adjutant general, one colonel, one captain and one lieu- 
tenant in the regular army. 



Daniel Hovey was born in England in 1618 and came to 
America, settling at Ipswich, when he died in 1695. He married 
Abigail Andrews. Daniel'^, Jr., was born in 1642 and married 

first Rebecca ; at her death, he married Esther Treadwell. 

Thomas^, born 1673, died 1748 ; married Martha . Thomas* 

born 1707 married Sarah Rust. Thomas" born at Ipswich 

in 1736 married Mary . He was the first of the line to 

remove from Ipswich, as he came first to Andover and from 
there to Dracut. His son, James Platz^, was a soldier who as- 
sisted in the suppression of Shays Rebellion in 1787. Thomas* 
was a school master and, selecting Dracut as his home, he pur- 
chased, in 1759, of Joseph Colburn 275 square rods of land 
at Hovey Square, on which had been erected the frame of a 
house. This he finished and it passed by inheritance to James*, 
his son, then to his son, George'', and at his death it was owned 
by George^ Jr. of Chicago. It was two story on the front, but, 
as was the style of the time, the long roof permitted but one 
story at the back, this roof later being changed to admit of two 
stories at the rear. The interior has undergone but little altera- 
tion, while the ell on the south end has been removed. This 
building was a tavern in the early days and was on the highway 
over which the stage coaches passed on their trips between 
Boston and Concord, N. H. Deacon Thomas* was active in town 
affairs and performed the duties to which he was called in an 
acceptable manner. He purchased in 1764 five acres of land of 
Jonathan Jones, thus enlarging his homestead lot on the east 
as far as Capt. Stephen Russell's farm line. Two years later he 
purchased of Elijah Hildreth 33 acres, which is described as 
lying "north of Blackbird Swamp and lying west on the 
townway from John Bowers' house to the house of 
Joseph Goodhue." This would be the lot of land lying be- 
tween the rifle range and Hildreth Street. He died August 
4, 1812, and is buried in the Hildreth cemetery. His son, 
James Platz", sometimes spelled Platts, was born July 21, 1767, 
and died November 30, 1831. He married his cousin, Rebecca 
Hovey, of Boxford. He had six sons, viz., William and Jo.shua, 
■who were shoe makers, Horatio Nelson, a merchant, James P. 


Jr., Cyrus, a silversmith, and George, a farmer, who came into 
possession of the home farm. George'' was a deacon in the 
Congregational church for many years and held important 
town offices, being selectman and treasurer. 

The name is of Welsh origin and is the same as John, which 
means gracious. No one of the name is recorded as recei^-ing 
any portion of the reserved laud and the time of their entrj^ 
into town was probably later than the division in 1721. Old 
records state the following facts relating to this family in a list 
of emigrants to America 1600 to 1750. 

"2 May 1635 The underwritten names are to be transported 
to the Barbadoes imbarqued in the Alexander, Capt. Bark and 
Gilbert Grimis, Masters certificate from the minister where they 
later dwelt the men took the oath of allegiance 

Walter Jones age 20 years. 

Morgan Jones age 31 j-ears. 

Hugh Jones age 22 years (born in 1613). 

Edith Jones age 21 years. 

Elizabeth Warren age 17 j^ears." 

Hugh^, married, first, Hannah Tompkins, who died May 10, 
1672. He married, second, ]\Iary Foster, who, among other 
children had a son, Hugh^, baptized in 1690, who married 
Hannah Wilson. 

There were eight children, among them David*, born 1716 ; 
Jonathan*, born 1719 ; Nathaniel*, born 1723 ; and Hugh*, born 
in 1727. David* married Hannah Fox, Da^id^, born 1741, mar- 
ried Mrs. Molly Bayte ; Da^'id^, born 1771, married Nabby (Abi- 
gail) Currier of Pelham, N. H. ; David'' married Mary Seavey. 
They had two children Frank*, who was a dentist, and Lizzie*. 
The other sons of DaAdd^ were Cyrus^, Darius'', and John 
Lucas''. The last named lived at Pelham, N. H., where his son, 
Martin L.*, now resides. Cyrus^ inherited the home farm which 
is on a cross road which connects the two roads to Methuen lead- 
ing from Dracut Center. It was later owned by his son, Charles 


<See Page 426) 


E.8, who died in 1900, and the farm was afterward sold. Darius' 
never married. Jonathan*, bom 1719, married 1744 Hannah 
Barron. Their son, Zebediah^, born 1753, married Mrs. Johan- 
nah Goodhue, and had sons Nehemiah", Thomas", and Zebediah". 
Nehemiah" married Mary, daughter of Jonas and Dolly Richard- 
son ; their daughter, Rebecca'', married Warner Coburn and 
lived on Hildreth Street. Zebediah" married 1807, Prudence, 
daughter of Jonathan and Mercy Richardson. 

They had eleven children. Nathaniel*, born 1723, married, in 
1748, Jane Fletcher. Their son Nathaniel-^ born 1750, married 
Jemima, daughter of Edward* and Hannah (Butterfield) Co- 
burn of Pelham, N. H. Bradley*' married Sarah Harris. Their 
son, Prescott', lived at Draeut Center on the homestead formerly 
his grandfather Nathaniel's farm. Solomon^, bom 1753, son 
of Nathaniel*, married Sally Danforth. Their daughter, Polly", 
married Simon Fox, son of Eliphalet Fox. Her sister Susan- 
nah", married Simeon Flint, and their daughter Mariette' mar- 
ried George Hamblett. Hugh*, bom 1727, married 1751 Sarah 
Fletcher. Among their children were Oliver^, Olive'', and 
Hannah^. Oliver^ born 1762, married Dorothy, daughter of 
Daniel and Eunice (Hunt) Clement. Their daughter Dolly", 
born 1792, married Dr. Israel Hildreth. Lydia", born 1796, 
daughter of Oliver' and Dorothy, married Pascal, son of Peter 
Coburn, Jr. Hannah^ daughter of Hugh* married Saul Cobum, 
and her sister OUve^, married Thaddeus Coburn. Oliver", son 
of Oliver^, bom in 1789 married Olive Cobum. The birth of 
two sons are on the Draeut Records, Oliver Morgan' bom 1815 
and Thaddeus C born 1819. 


The first mention of the name is found in the record of the 
sailing of the ship from England which numbered among its 
passengers one Daniel Bradley. The entry, including the early 
spelling of the name, is as follows: 

"8 April is 1635 

Thies p'les [peoples] herevender mencioned are to be trans- 
ported to New England: inbarqued in the Elizabeth of London 


Wm. Stagg Mr. bound thither: they have taken the oath of Al- 
legienee and Supremacie p'r Cert: from the p'ish [parish] of 
St Alphage Cripple gate the minister there." 

Wm Holdred Tanner 25. 

Roger Preston Tanner 21. 

Daniell Broadley 20. 

Isaek Studman 30." 

In 1662, Daniel married Mary, daughter of John and Jane 
Williams, and settled in Bradford, where his two oldest children, 
Daniel, Jr., and Joseph, were born. Later he removed to Haver- 
hill. He was killed by the Indians, or as the documents phrase 
it, "Slain by ye hand of ye heathen," August 13, 1689, near the 
present Atkinson depot. They had nine children, the oldest, 
Daniel, Jr., with his wife and two children, Mary and Hannah, 
were killed by the Indians March 15, 1696/7. 

Joseph Bradley^ was born February 7, 1664/5, and died 
October 3, 1779. He married April 14, 1691, Hannah Heath. 
They had ten children, only one of whom will be in this record. 
April 19, 1697 he was sent with others to re-enforce the garrison, 
at that time commanded by Thomas Duston, whose wife was 
captured by the Indians, as related in local histories. He after- 
ward was commander of the same garrison which was attacked 
by the Indians in 1703. He also led a scouting party, capturing 
the packs of a party of French and Indians, the loss of which 
resulted in their capture. His wife, Hannah, was taken captive 
by the Indians in 1696 and her two children killed. The manner 
of her release and return is not known. 

In 1703, the garrison was attacked in the daj' time, when only 
one soldier was on guard, who was killed. The others were 
away as no attack was expected. Mrs. Bradley was boiling 
soap and defended herself by throwing it on the Indians and 
scalding them; but she was overpowered and taken to Canada. 

In 1705, John Sheldon was emi^owered to go to Canada and 
negotiate for the release of the captives. His attendants were 
Joseph Bradley and a man from Deerfield. Their mission 
was successful and Hannah returned to experience more at- 
tacks by the Indians. In 1706, there was a night attack on the 
garrison when only the family and a hired man were the occu- 


pants. As the first Indian crowded through the door, he was 
shot by Mrs. Bradley and the others retreated without further 
molestation. When captured the second time she had for fellow 
prisoners, Mrs. Dustan and Mary Neif; but being obliged to 
travel in advance of the others, she was not present when the 
two women killed the Indians and returned. The following 
document is on record: 

"The Deposition of the widow Hannah Bradley of Haverhill 
of full age, who testyfieth & saith that about forty years past, 
the said Hannah together with the widow Mary Neff were taken 
prisoners by the Indians & carried together into captivity & 
above pennycook the Deponent was by the Indians forced to 
travel further than the rest of the captives & the next night 
but one there came to us one Squaw who said that Hannah Dus- 
tin & the aforesaid Mary Neff assisted in the killing of the 
Indians of her wigwam, except herself & a boy, herself escap- 
ing very narrowly, showing to myself and others seven wounds, 
as she said with a Hatchet on her head ; and which wounds were 
given her when the rest were killed. ' ' 

This was signed by Hannah Bradley by the making of her 
mark. This is a brief account of the captivity of one of those 
sturdy New England women whose descendants were prominent 
in Dracut but within its limits no one of the name is now living. 

Their son, Joseph^, married Hannah Marsh and they were 
the parents of Amos* the first of the name in Dracut. Amos 
came from Haverhill about 1761 and purchased the farm of 
Solomon Abbott, with the ferry, at Central Bridge, reference 
to which has already been made. His wife was Elizabeth Page, 
a great-granddaughter of Thomas and Hannah Duston. This 
was the Hannah Duston who was captured by the Indians and 
escaped. Thej' were the parents of eleven children. Deacon 
Amos, as he was called sold his property on the river in 1809 
to his son Joseph who operated it until he sold it in 1827 to the 
Central Bridge Corporation. He died Oct. 14, 1813. The five 
sons of Deacon Amos were Amos, Jr.^, who became a physician, 
as already recorded. He married Lydia Jones, of Salem, N. H., 
and eleven children were bom to them. His farm was on Hil- 
dreth Street adjoining on the north grounds of the Blanchard 


Hospital. At his death, May 6, 1817, his son, Dr. Peleg^, suc- 
ceeded to his estate and his father's practice. Joshua^ married 
Mary Poor, they lived in Dracut and had eleven children. 
Joseph^ married Lydia Worcester and they had seven children. 
He owned the ferry at Central Bridge which he purchased of his 
father and kept a tavern in a building which he built on First 
Street and which still stands nearly opposite the ferry landing. 
He is said to have been the first to operate a steamer on the river 
making trips to Nashua. 

Caleb^, called Parson Bradley became a clergyman and set- 
tled in Portland, Me. He was twice married and left six 

"Many of the older people will remember tlie kindly old 
'Parson Bradley' who died a generation ago, but who for 
sixty years or more before was one of the best-known clergymen 
in New England. Caleb Bradley was his name, and he was a 
native of Dracut, Mass. 

His style of preaching was florid and declamatory, his manner 
ardent and somewhat eccentric, but this was the result of his 
peculiar temperament, and did not rise from any lack of moral 
sensibility, for with all his vivacity he was a most sincere 
Christian and devoted minister. 

A small volume might be filled with many quaint sayings and 
kindly doings of the famous old preacher. It was the custom 
for the minister when he closed the marriage ceremony to greet 
the bride with a kiss. Being called upon one occasion to marry 
two colored people, after performing the ceremony he said to 
the groom. ' Salute your bride, sir. ' To which the negro replied. 
'After wou, massa. ' The good parson declined the privilege, 
aud ever after abandoned the practice of kissing brides. 

In 1857 Mr. Bradley attended commencement at Harvard 
college, and being the oldest clergyman present, he was re- 
quested according to custom, to ask a blessing at the dinner of 
the graduates, which he did in manner following: 'Almighty 
God, for past favors, for present enjoyment, and for future 
hopes, accept the best feelings of our hearts, through Jesus 
Christ our Lord and Saviour, Amen. ' The brevity of this invo- 
cation was in striking contrast to many who had preceded him 
in that duty, and was greatly appreciated by the guests. 


The good minister had a bluff, hearty manner, and, as was 
the almost universal custom among the clergy in the earlier days 
of his pastorate, partook of an occasional glass of rum. While 
calling one day on a parishioner of his, the good woman brought 
forth a bottle of rum and pouring out some in a glass put a 
spoonful of molasses in it. 

'No sweetening,' said the minister, 'it needs no sweetening.' 
"Why, Mr. Bradley,' she replied, 'it could not be too sweet 
for you if it was all molasses.' 'Well, well, pour it in, then,' 
responded the good pastor, always susceptible to flatterj-. 

In the pulpit he had many little mannerisms which, far from 
detracting from the regard in which he was held, made him, if 
possible, more popular among his parishioners and acquaint- 
ances. On the occasion of the dedication of a school in Sacca- 
rappa, being called upon for the prayer, he responded, and 
ended with these words: 'Oh God, make this school as good as 
the Gorham school, and you know that that is not what it is 
cracked up to be.' 

During an especially dry summer Parson Bradley was occupy- 
ing one Sunday the pulpit of the Congregational church in 
Scarboro, and being requested to pray for rain, in his charac- 
teristic style he invoked the divine blessing in this manner: 
'0 God, send us rain, but you know that this ground needs 
dressing far more than it does rain.' The soil in that vicinity 
being rather poor suggested the coupling of this hint to its 
owners with his supplication to the Lord. 

In his day the parson was politically a strong Federalist, 
and subsequently a Whig. During the administration of the 
democratic president, James K. Polk, the good minister was 
called upon to address a school in the town of Westbrook, and 
in trying to impress the boys with the importance of study, he 
called their attention to the fact that in this country any boy 
had a chance of becoming president of the Unitel States, and 
went on to say, 'Perhaps some of you ma\' be a man as good 
as Washington, some of you may be as good as Adams, some one 
of 30U as worthy as Harrison, and the Lord knows that any of 
^•^ u may be equal to a Polk.' 

On another occasion he was attending the funeral of the wife 
of one of the most prominent citizens in the town of Westbrook. 


In the course of his prayer he said, 'Oh Lord, be merciful to 
the bereaved husband. Especially, Lord, we pray thee, to 
prevent him from making such a fool of himself as most men do 
who lose their wives.' " 

Nehemiah^ married Lydia French and they had five children. 
He lived near Bradley's ferry and was the ferryman in the em- 
ploy of his brother Joseph, he also had a shoemaker's shop. 
Another Bradley family resided in the town. This was Isaac 
Bradley, who was born in Haverhill in 1749, and came to Dra- 
cut where he married in 1772, "Marget," daughter of Ephraim 
Hildreth. In the same year he bought of Ezekiel Hale a dwell- 
ing house on the south side of Pleasant Street, near the mills, 
then owned by Hale. The building stood at the crossing where the 
electric road crosses Pleasant Street and is a few rods from its 
former location, fronting now on Lakeview Avenue. In 1779, 
he bought of Hale li/^ acres of land between his house and 
Beaver Brook, with a scythe mill, water privileges, etc. This 
property passed to his son, Benjamin Bradley, who lived in a 
farm house between Lakeview Avenue and Brookside Street. 
Six members of the Bradley families served in the Revolution. 


Deacon Thomas Parker, the Progenitor of the Parkers of 
Dracut, was born in 1605 and died in 1683. He came to 
America from London, England, in 1635, as a passenger in 
the ship Susan arid Ellin, and the same j'ear married Amy, 
whose surname is not known. He resided at Lynn two years, 
but, later, removed to Reading which, at that time, was being 
settled. His grave is to be seen in one of the old cemeteries of 
Wakefield, formerly a part of Reading. He was a deacon in the 
church at Reading and assisted in its establishment. He, with 
Deacon Thomas Kendall and Deacon William Cowdrey consti- 
tuted the board of founders of the church. His good judgment 
and ability caused him to be elected to the office of commissioner 
and his duty was to act as judge in the trial of cases which did 
not properly belong to a higher court. There were eleven chil- 
dren and the Parkers of Dracut are descended from the third 
son who was known as Sergeant John. 


The descendants of Deacon Thomas have taken an active part 
in the wars which occurred in the early days in the history of 
this country. In the Colonial wars he was represented by five 
sons, three grandsons, eight great-grandsons and twelve great- 
great-grandsons. On April 19, 1775, at the battle of Lexington 
and Concord, he was represented by six great-grandsons and 
twenty-three great-great-grandsons. In the Revolutionary war 
he had six great-grandsons and thirty-two great-great-grand- 
sons. Among these were men holding every rank from private 
to general. 

Sergeant John- Parker was born in 1640 and died in 1698. 
His home was in Reading, at a locality known as Cowdrey hill. 
In 1667 he married Hannah the fourth daughter of Deacon 
Thomas Kendall. By this marriage the name Kendall was 
introduced into the family. The only son of Deacon Ken- 
dall dj'ing when young, the daughters agreed that their 
first born sons should be named Kendall, and thus in the early 
records the name of Kendall Parker appears frequently. Ser- 
geant John served in King Philip's war in 1675 and 1676, and 
during the last named year he was wounded. While a farmer 
by occupation, his services were in demand as a surveyor. 
Sergeant John had thirteen children, and the fourth son, 
Johnathan^*, married, in 1706, Anna Flint. He died in Reading 
in 1746. 

In their family of five children, the youngest was named 
Kendall, who was born in Reading, April 23, 1723. He 
married Mary Harris of Methuen, and with his brother Tim- 
othy^ settled on land on both sides of the line between Methuen 
and Dracut. Four children were born to this couple and after 
the death of the mother he married Priscilla Austin and there 
were seven children by this marriage. It is from four of these 
brothers, viz., Kendall, Jr.^, Peter'', Jonathan^ and Nathan^ 
that the Parkers of Dracut are descended. The name of 
Kendall^ is found on the Roll of Honor as a private in Capt. 
Stephen RusseU's company, which hurried to Lexington on 
April 19, 1775. The next year he was a corporal in Capt. 
Reed's company, in Col. Varnum's regiment. It is an interest- 
ing fact that at Concord and Lexington, on that memorable 
day, there were twenty-nine men who were related to each other, 
mostly cousins, twenty-six of whom bore the name of Parker. 


Kendall'', Jr., was born April 4, 1752, and died April 6, 
1807. In 1777, he married Mrs. Dolly (Jones) Richardson, 
daughter of Nathaniel and Jane Jones, and widow of Jonas 
Richardson. He was active in town affairs, holding the office 
of surveyor, collector and constable. In 1787, the selectmen 
ordered the treasurer to pay to them twelve shillings "to 
Deliver to Mr. Kindall Parker Jun'' for Expenses for man and 
Horses Carrying Provisions to the Army." His home was at 
the corner of Bridge and Pleasant Streets, where Cyrus Udell 
now lives. While living he disposed of his property to his 
children after making provision for his widow. 

One of his children, SamueF, the youngest, lived at the 
homestead at the Center. He was born April 10, 1794, and 
died December 20, 1850. He married, April 19, 1821, Sarah 
Harris of Methuen. His occupation was that of blacksmith 
and his shop stood on the point of land formed by the inter- 
section of Pleasant Street and Aiken Avenue, near the hay 
scales. There were ten children, among them SamueP, Jr., who 
died in 1865, and William F., never married. Benjamin'' 
married Rowena M., daughter of Jonathan® Parker, and Levi 
N.'', who married Sarah E. Noyes of Bow, N. H. A daughter, 
Sarah, who never married, lived at Dracut Center, and died 
at an advanced age. 

Peter^ was born in 1754, and died in 1809. In 1785 he 
married Bridget, daughter of Joshua and Hannah (Richardson) 
Coburn, the fifth in descent from Edward^ Colburn, the first 
of the name in Dracut. His life as a Dracut farmer was un- 
eventful, but his record as a soldier is honorable. Besides his 
service in the Dracut companies, he was in Capt. Wright's 
company in Col. Brooks' regiment at White Plains, and in 
Lieut. Flint's company in Col. Poor's regiment. His name is in 
"New York in the Revolution" and in the pay books of the 
treasurer of the State of New York. The company to which he 
belonged was in the battle at White Plains, in October, 1776, 
and the regiment commanded by Col. Brooks covered the retreat 
of the American troops. After the battle, he, with others, was 
selected to accompany the wovinded to their destination. 

Theodore® was the j'oungest of the eight children of Peter 
and Bridget. He was born in 1799 and died in 1865. He 


married, in 1830, Lj-dia, daughter of Eldad Carter, one of the 
earliest settlers of Wilmington. She died in 1832, leaving a 
son, Theodore E.". He married Frances Brackett, and their 
son, Theodore E.^, married Harriet Talbot. Theodore^ married 
a second wife, in 1834, Hannah, daughter of Deacon Moses and 
Mary (Derb.y) Greeley of Hudson, N. H. Their children were 
Mary^ who married Leonard H. Morrison, Moses G.^, and 
Adelaide, who died in infancy. He was an enterprising man 
and established blacksmith shops in Dracut and Audover. In- 
heriting the homestead, he managed his farm and conducted 
the business of blacksmithing at the same time. He was dili- 
gent, upright and honorable in his business relations, acquiring 
a cempetency which relieved him from care in his declining 
years. In those days the duties of a smith were more varied 
than at the present day. He must know how to shoe horses 
and oxen, iron sleighs, sleds and carts, fashion knives and 
carpenters' tools, and do all kinds of repairing in iron work. 
He was also an expert in the art of brazing iron and, what was 
far more difficult, he understood the silvering of iron, which 
required skill of a high order. He was an active and earnest 
member of the Baptist Church at Methuen, but he retained a 
love for the Dracut Center Church, where his father worshipped 
and alwaj's retained in his possession the old square pew until^ 
with others, it was removed to give place to improvements. 
Jonathan^, son of KendalP, was born February 18, 1764, 
and died August 31, 1834. He married Alice Guttterson. Of 
the ten children, only two will be mentioned in this history, viz.. 
Worthy* and Aiken*. In 1802, he purchased a farm of Josiah 
Wood, situated on the Methuen Road, north of the road on 
which his father's farm was situated. This farm he left to his 
two sons above mentioned. His house was the Parker Tavern 
and was famous for its hall in which were held dancing parties 
which were patronized bj' the young people of Lowell. He 
served in the Revolution in the companies of Capt. Russell and 
Capt. Varnum. His son, Worthy", bom in 1803, married Mary 
Nudd, and owned the tavern building and the eastern half of 
the farm; while Aiken" owned the western half, where he made 
his home. 


Nathan', son of Kendall, Sr., was born in May, 1776, and 
died September 2, 1852. He married, in 1801, Elsa Gilchrest. 
In 1800, he purchased a part of the homestead farm of Isaac 
Barker, situated on the crossroad leading from the Varnum 
cemetery to the Methuen Road. Six children were born, only 
one son reaching maturity. This was Nathan", Jr., who was 
born July 7, 1805, and died March 16, 1870. He married 
Fannie, daughter of Nathaniel and Anna Jones. He owned the 
home farm, and of his ten children, two only of the sons settled 
in Dracut, viz., "William Sumner^ and Bernice'. Another 
family by the name of Parker resided in Dracut. 

The progenitor of this line was Abraham, born about 1612, 
and married, in 1644, Eose Whitlock. John^, born in 1647, 
married, in 1678, Marj- Danforth. Jolm^, born about 1683, 

married Deborah or Rebecca . John^, born in 1711, 

married Hannah . Ephraim-'', born in 1738, married, 

in 1762, Sj'bil Warren. John«, born in 1763, married, in 1784, 
Mercy Coburn, who was in the fifth generation from Edward^ 
The line is Edward^, Joseph-, Aaron^, Aaron*, Mercy^. Perley'', 
son of John, was born in 1796, and married, in 1825, Sarah 
Grosvenor, widow of William Butler of Pelham, N. H. John 
M. G.* was born in 1826, and married, in 1852, Dolh' Maria, 
daughter of Israel Hildreth. Another son of John" and Mercy 
was Asa'', who was born in ]7!}1, and married, in 1814, Elizabeth, 
daughter of Obadiah and Hannah Richardson. Two only of 
the fourteen children of Asa settled in Dracut, viz., John I.® 

who married Eliza , and Perley who married Mrs. 

Harriet Cole. One son of Asa', Obadiah*, was killed by light- 
ning while mowing in a meadow. 

One of the younger sons was named Merrill Richardson 
Parker, and his adventures seem like a romance. Born in Dracut 
in 1837, at thirteen years of age, he went to New York, where he, 
as a sailor, made several voyages to Liverpool on the merchant 
vessels, named Dreadnaitght and Sidon, and in the Charlotie of 
Derby to Newcastle, Shields and the North Sea ; also to Bombay 
and Hong Kong. Returning to England, he left the sea and 
was employed in London by the Colt Fire Arms Co. At the 
commencement of the Crimean War, he enlisted in the 90th 
Light Infantry, and served in the English army, being at the 


siege of Sebastopol in 1855, when eighteen years of age. He 
was present and took an active part in the battle of Balaklava 
and while stationed on a hiU he saw the famous charge of the 
Light Brigade which the poet laureate of England, Lord Tenny- 
son, so forcibly describes in the poem, "The Charge of the Light 
Brigade. ' ' 

"Cannon to right of them, 

Cannon to left of them, 

Cannon in front of them. 

Volleyed and thundered, 

Stormed at with shot and shell. 

Boldly they rode and well. 

Into the jaws of Death 

Into the mouth of hell. 

Rode the six hundred. 

Flashed all their sabres bare. 
Flashed as they turned in air, 
Sabring the gunners there; 
Charging an army while 
All the world wondered. 
Plunged in the battery smoke 
Right through the line they broke. 
Cossack and Russian 
Reeled from the sabre stroke. 
Shattered and sundered. 
Then they rode back, but not, 
Not the six hundred." 

As this was a war in which America was not engaged, the 
conclusion is that he had an adventurous spirit which led him into 
perils and dangers from which he escaped unharmed, and after 
his discharge from the army, which occurred October 1, 1856, 
he returned to Hartford, Conn., where he again entered the 
employ of the Colt Fire Arms Co. 

The younge-st son of Asa and Elizabeth was named Alfred 
F. He enlisted in August, 1862, in the 1st Conn. Cavalry and 
was present at the battle of Fredericksburg. The following 
year the company served as provost guard at Baltimore. They 


were later ordered to the Shenandoah Valley and served under 
Gen. Phil Sheridan. He wa.s at the Battle of Cedar Creek 
where the 6th Corp was in danger of being beaten by the Con- 
federates under Gen. Early, but being assisted by the 1st Conn. 
Cavalry, the ^^etory was won. He received his discharge from 
the army in 1865. 

The spirit which prompted Merrill Parker to engage in a 
military capacity was inherited by his sons. His oldest son, 
Merrill, Jr., served in the late war and was badly wounded 
at the battle of the Marne, receiving injuries to arm and knee, 
which confined him in the hospital 16 months, but re- 
covered and returned home. The second son, Roswell H., was 
a member of the 9th Machine Gun Co., who, after qualifying 
for the position of 2d lieutenant, was sent to France where he 
also took part in the battle of the Marne and was promoted to 
the office of 1st lieutenant. In this battle he received a gun- 
,shot wound and the enemy stripped him and left him lying 
in the rain. He was resevied by his men and recovered of his 
wounds and returned to America. 

The home of John^ and Mercy was on the southern slope 
of Marsh Hill, the house standing near the house of Eugene C. 
Fox, near the line of the Russell Grant, called Belcher's Farm 
Line and on the north side of the road. A slight depression 
shows where the building stood. When about 1825 the country 
road, now Bridge Street, was opened the present building 
became the Parker Home, the last of the name to occupy it 
being John I.^, son of Asa^ and Elizabeth. Perley^ son of 
Johu^, lived at Dracut heights, now Centralville, where he 
owned a farm and the same locality was the home of his son, 
John M. G.8 

The Parkers came into possession of the land by purchase 
as their entry into Dracut was after the division of the reserved 
land. In the Proprietors' Record an account is given of land 
"adjoining Primes lot on Merrimack River, comprising 210 
acres was laid out June 2, 1715, to Rev. John Higginson." In 
the Essex County records the transfer of this tract on June 
27, 1715, from John Higgison, Sr., to John, Jr., is recorded. 
March 23, 1742. Timothy Parker, of Reading, purchased the 
rights in the Higginson tract. The deed recites, "This land 


is the same as deeded to John Higginson, Jr., by his father, 
John Higginson, 27 June 1715," and quotes from an earlier 
deed, and described as a "Certain Tract of upland and meadow 
Scituate within the Township of Dracut it being that Tract 
of Land which was granted unto me out of the Reserved Land 
in Dracutt by the Town of Dracutt and with the Consent of 
the major part of the Proprietors of the reserved lands my 
part being the thirtieth part of the whole reserved lands where 
of there is laid out to me one price of land containing two 
hundred and ten acres joining upon Dracut East Line and 
is in breadth one hundred and eighty poles from said Dracutt 
Line westward to a black oak tree marked and thence three 
hundred and twenty poles on a due north line and thence East 
northerly to Dracutt line." Also "a certain piece of meadow, 
15 acres of land laid out at the head of Dennisons brook. Also 
317 acres east of Dracutt line laid out by the General Court." 

Two years later, Timothy sold two-fifths of the tract to his 
father, Jonathan. As this lot in Dracut joined another east 
of the Methuen line, granted by the General Court, the sub- 
sequent transfers must have included both lots. Timothy's 
brothers, John and Kendall, owned shares which were held in 
common until November 18, 1745, when there was a division. 
As only the descendants of Kendall, Sr., are in Dracut, the 
shares of the others were in Methuen or else were purchased by 

In 1789, Kendall sold the land on the north side of the road 
to his son, Peter, and the tract on the south side to his son, 
Jonathan. In the deed the amount given is "fourty acres" and 
was "a part of the farm called Higgersons farm." This later 
became the property of his youngest son, Theodore, who pur- 
chased, in 1826, the land on the south side of the road which 
Jonathan had sold to Peter Harris. Theodore was the last of 
the name to occupy the farm although a part of it was in 
possession of his son. Dr. Moses G., at the time of his death. 

Among the professional men whose birthplace was Dracut 
and whose lives have been active and useful. Dr. Moses G. 
Parker occupies a prominent place. His ancestry from Deacon 
Thomas^ has already been recorded. A brief sketch of his 
life was printed in the Lowell Courier from which we 


quote: "He attended the schools of Dracut, the Howe School 
of Billerica and Phillips Academy at Andover, graduating from 
the Harvard Medical School in 1864. He immediately entered 
the United States service as Assistant Surgeon in the Second 
U. S. Colored Cavalry, and remained in the service until the 
close of the war, having been in engagements in Virginia, at 
Suffolk, Chiekahominy, Jamestown, Wilson's Landing and 
Bermuda Hundreds. He volunteered to go on board the gun- 
boat Commodore Perry during the bombardment of Fort Clifton 
on the Appomattox River when she burst her 100 lb. Parrott 
gun, and assisted the surgeon in caring for the wounded. After 
this he was with his regiment before Petersburg, and on July 
30, 1864, was so near the explosion of the mine that he saw and 
heard the terrible upheaval that formed the crater. Later he 
was assigned to hospital dutj' and was placed in charge of 
the first division of the Point of Rocks Hospital, Va., containing 
1,000 beds. 

At the close of the war he received an honorable discharge 
and, in 1866, commenced the practice of medicine in Lowell, 
Mass. He soon became prominent in his profession and was 
elected a member of the staff of St. John's Hospital, a trustee 
of the Lowell General Hospital, and was twice president of 
the Middlesex North District Medical Society. He invented a 
thermo cautery in 1876, and becoming interested in photog- 
raphy, he discovered the rotary motion in the fire of lightning 
and was the first to show by photography that the electric cur- 
rent rotates. The discovery was recorded by the New York 
Electric Club Revieiv, and London Engineering in 1888. Being 
interested in electrical science, he realized the value of the tele- 
phone and was one of the first to become financially interested 
in the Lowell District Co., in 1879, becoming a director in this 
and other companies and vice-president in the Boston and 
Northern Telephone Company. In 1883, when these and other 
companies consolidated to form the New England Telephone 
and Telegraph Company, he became a director and member 
of the executive committee, which office he retained until his 

He travelled extensively in Europe and in this country, 
having made an extended trip to the Northwest into Alaska 


and south into Mexico. In 1892, he hecame interested in the 
Sons of the American Revolution and was a member of its 
board of managers. He was a charter member of the Old 
Middlesex Chapter and for two terms held the office of president. 
He was president of the State Society for two terms and in 
1911-1912 was president general of the National Society, S. A. R. 
He was a delegate to the National Arbitration and Peace Con- 
gress in New York, in 1907, and a United States delegate to 
the seventeenth International Medical Congress held in London, 
England, in 1913. His death occurred at his home in Lowell." 


The name is, literally, like many others, Richard's son, 
Richard meaning of a powerful, rich or generous disposition. 
The progenitor of the Dracut family was Ezekiel, who came 
from England at an early date and settled at Woburn. His 
wife's name was Susanna and they were the parents of seven 
children, among them were Josiah^ and James^, who were the 
ones from whom the Dracut families descended. Thomas^, son 
of James, married Hannah, daughter of Edward^ Colburu, and 
settled near his father-in-law on Varnum Avenue. Josiah^ and 
his son, Josiah^, lived at Chelmsford. Josiah^ was the first of the 
name to settle in Dracut, and at a general town meeting held 
October 27, 1712, leave was granted him to be a settled inhabi- 
tant of Dracut on the lot. No. 10, which his father took up with 
the consent of the general court. Josiah^ died October 17, 1711. 
Vincent in his Memorial describes the lot as having "Merrimack 
river on the south, the Solomon lot on the west, on the north and 
east it had marked trees. It was one of the fifteen lots that lay 
between Mr. Belcher's farm and Mr. Winthrop's farm and 
near Walker's brook and was the thirtieth part of the undivided 
land in the township of Dracut." His occupancy of the lot is 
uncertain, for later he purchased land of Jonathan Belcher, on 
what is now Hildreth street in Centralville and where he re- 
sided until his death. 

The limits of this history forbid a record of all the descend- 
ants of Josiah* and his wife Lydia . Those who settled in 

Dracut will be mentioned. Of the twelve children, Ephraim^, 
born November 12, 1722, married Elizafbeth Richardson. 


Ephraim^, born December 27, 1745, married Eleanor Richard- 
son and lived on the farm later owned by Jonathan Fox. His 
son, Ephraim', married Hannah Richardson. His son Ephraim 
Oakley*, married his cousin, Sarah Varnum. Moses^, born May 
14, 1724, married Elizabeth Coburn. His son, Obadiah", married 
Hannah Hildreth. Obadiah, Jr." married Rhoda Hazelton. 

The daughters of Obadiah^ lived in Dracut and died at an 
advanced age. Their names were Sarah, married Isaac Coburn, 
lived at Navy Yard; Hannah, married Ephraim Richardson; 
Clarissa, married Amos Boyntou ; Lydia, married Colonel Pres- 
cott Varnum ; Sophia, married William Foster, Jr. ; Elizabeth, 
married Asa Parker; Charlotte, married Reuben Coburn. The 
last named died at the age of 72, and the others at ages ranging 
from 80 to 94. 

Merrill' married Mercy Wood. Their sons were John Mer- 
rilF, born September 30, 1821 ; Increase Sumner*, born March 
3, 1824 ; AbeP, born August 20, 1827. David^ had a son, Reuben^, 
who married Deborah Butterfield. They had sons, Reuben', who 
lived near the Hildreth Cemetery, and Levi', who lived on the 
Mammoth Road, above CoUinsville. David^ had a son, Thaddeus^, 
who married Polly Currier of Methuen. Their son, Thaddeus', 
married Betsy M. Bradford. David^ had a son, Samuel*, born 
February 14, 1761, who married Priidence Wood. They were 
the parents of three brothers who were prominent citizens of 
Dracut. Samuel', Jr., married Hannah Varnum. Of their ten 
children, Phineas^, Edward* and Calvin* settled in Dracut. 

Samuel, Jr.', married in 1821, Hannah, daughter of Colonel 
Preseott and Elizabeth Varnum. He inherited the farm owned 
by his father, Samuel*, but after his marriage he removed to the 
Ebenezer Varnum farm which he transferred to his son, Phineas, 
and his later years were spent on a farm in the immediate 
neighborhood on Broadway. His children were: Phineas, born 
in 1821 ; Edward E., bom in 1823 ; Preseott V., born in 1825 ; 
Samuel W., born in 1828; Andrew, born in 1830; George Au- 
gustus, born in 1835 ; Calvin, born in 1837 ; Cyrus, born in 1840. 
Two children died in infancy. 

At the present time only two are living, viz., Calvin, who 
for many years was a farmer in Dracut, but recently removed 
to the Pacific coast and Cyrus now living at Concord, Mass. 


Professional life attracted Cyrus rather than farming which 
was the occupation of his brothers, and he entered Dartmouth 
College, from which he graduated in 1864. Deciding to enter 
the ministry, he became a student at the Andover Theological 
Seminary, from which he graduated in 1869. His first pastorate 
was at Plymouth. N. H., and after three years' service, he ac- 
cepted a caU to Keene, N. H., remaining there ten years. Re- 
ceiving a call to a church at Nashua, N. H., he accepted it and 
was very successful as a pastor. The church at Nashua was one 
of the largest in the city and in the twenty-six years of his 
labors there, his ability as a preacher and his faithfulness in 
pastoral work endeared him to his congregation and the people 
of the city where he located and from which he removed in 190'J. 
He has held important offices. He was a trustee of Dartmouth 
College for the term of fourteen years and from which he re- 
ceived the degree of Doctor of Divinity. Pie was also a trustee 
of the New Hampshire Home Missionary Society for twenty 
years. As a lecturer and orator, his services were in demand, and 
as a speaker in this capacity he was successful. 

David', born April 16, 1803, married Fanny Varnum. Dana'', 
born April 11, 1805, married Emily Swett. One son, Amos 
Tappan^, lived in Dracut. Josiah, Jr.^, had a son, Jonathan^, 
who married Mercy Richardson. There were twelve children. 
Among them Jonas^ born July 31, 1780, and lived at Hovey 
Square. He married Joanna Jones and the three children, 
Henry*, Julia*, who married Charles Hamblett and Justus*, all 
lived in town. Asa W. M. Richardson was son of Asa, a de- 
scendant of Ezekiel^. The line is EzekieU, James^, Thomas^, 
James*, James^, James^, SamueF, Asa*, Asa Warren Mansur'. 
He married Catharine Clary. He inherited his father's farm 
on Burns' Hill, but his progenitors lived in Pelham. The line 
of Oliver, who lived at East Dracut, is the same as the above 
except that it is James^, James', Oliver*, Almon^, Melvin^, Otis^, 
now living in Dracut. 


George^ Varnum 's home was at Ipswich, and his son, Sam- 
ueP, was the first to purchase land in Dracut with the intention 
of becoming a permanent settler. In 1668, he purchased a large 

418 HIl^TORy OF DRACllT 

tract of land on Merrimack River, but as the Indians were un- 
fi-iendly, as it was immediately preceding King Philips' War 
he at first located on the Chelmsford side of the river when pro- 
tection was afforded by Hinchman's garrison and by Tyng's 
garrison in Tyngsboro. He cultivated land on the north side of 
the river, crossing in a boat for that purpose. 

In 1669, Edward^ Colburn, who had been Varnum's neigh- 
bor at Ipswich, purchased land adjoining Varnum's on which 
was a garrison house, and it became the centre of a settlement of 
which Varnum was a member. He had seven children, five of whom 
wei-e probably born at Ipsmch, as only the two youngest appear 
on the Chelmsford records. The two oldest children, George'* 
and Samuel^ were killed by the Indians while ero.ssiug the river 
with their father, the Indians being in ambush on the Dracut 
side of the river. There is no record of the death or burial place 
of Samuel, Sr., but his death did not occur until after 1702, as 
in that year his name is found affixed to a petition for authority 
to lay out the town of Dracut. Thomas^, the oldest son, born in 
1662, inherited the home farm. It is now in possession of 
Thomas, of the eighth generation. 

The second son, John^, born in 1669, was the first white 
child born in the settlement and when he arrived at maturity 
his home was in the vicinity of the falls where he owned a mill. 

Of the eight children of John^ none of the male line have 
been prominent in Dracut history, except Parker^ Varnum, who, 
being familiar with legal business, was called Squire Varmim. 
His home was at the corner of Varnum Avenue and Old Meadow 
Road. He was interested in the erection of Pawtucket bridge 
and was clerk of the corporation until 1805. Joseph^, born in 
1672, located on the Indian reservation where a garrison house 
was built and which remained standing until recent years. This 
reservation included what is now the western part of the Navy 
Yard village and reached from Beaver Brook to some point above 
Pawtucket bridge and bordered on Long Pond. He purchased 
the Prime lot which was the sixteenth lot on the river in the 
Reserved Lands, in what is now the Kenwood district, which 
he deeded to his son, Samuel*, who married Mary Prime. Their 
son, Joseph Bradley^ Varnum, was very prominent in the affairs 
of the town. Inheriting the farm, he became a successful farmer 


and his grave is in the Varnum cemetery. He commanded a 
company of Dracut men in the Revolution and remaining a mem- 
ber of the State militia, he afterward attained the rank of Major 
General. He became a member of Congress, representing the 
district when the 4th National Congress assembled at Philadel- 
phia, and upon the removal of the seat of government to Wash- 
ington, he was elected Speaker of the House. Previous to this 
time he represented the town in the general court of the state. 

The Varnums were influential in the early history of the 
town. Recognizing the value of the water privileges at the falls, 
they secured the land on Merrimack river and Beaver Brook, 
on the former of which they were the owTiers of valuable fishing 
rights. With the Colburns, the Varnums share the honor of 
being the pioneers in the settlement of the town. 

Joseph^ had sons, Joseph'* and John*. Joseph* had a son, 
Bradley". Bradley, Jr.^, had a son, Charles^, whose sons, Joseph 
B.** and Charles^, lived in Lowell, while the son of Charles* is 
Thomas^, now a resident of Chelmsford. 

General James M. Varnum 

James M.'' was the oldest son of Samuel*, who purchased the 
Prime lot on Merrimack River, and whose wife was Mary Prime. 
His brother, Joseph Bradley^, inherited the home farm, while 
James received his share by being provided with a liberal edu- 
cation. From the schools of Dracut he entered Harvard College, 
where he remained one year and removed to Rhode Island Col- 
lege, since known as Browai University. After graduation he 
taught a classical school for a short time and then studied law in 
the office of Hon. Oliver Arnold, the attorney-general of Rhode 
Island. He married a daughter of Hon. Cromel Child, of East 
Greenwich, Conn., and resided at that town where he afterward 
entertained Generals Washington, Greene, Sullivan and others. 

In 1774, he was elected colonel of the Kentish Guards, and 
as colonel of a regiment of Rhode Island infantry, he marched 
to Boston to take a part in the war for American independence. 
He bore an honorable part in the war, being present at the battle 
of White Plains. He was promoted to brigadier general in the 
Continental Army and in November, 1877, was ordered by Gen- 
eral Washington to take command of Fort Mercer, Red Bank 


and Fort Mifflin. The next year he returned to Rhode Island and 
took part in the defence of the state. His military career ended 
the next year, 1779, when he resigned and was chosen a member 
of the Continental Congress. He served in this body during the 
years 1786 and 1787, when the Northwest Territory being opened, 
he was appointed one of the judges of this territory. 

In those early days public conveyancers were not introduced 
in the unsettled regions and the long journey was made, with 
only one companion, on horseback. He became very popular, as 
his education and natural ability enabled him to enter upon 
his duties and perform them to the satisfaction of the Govern- 
ment and to the people of the territory. But his health failed, he 
was obliged to relinquish his duties and he passed from earth 
in 1789 at the age of forty-one. This brief sketch is taken from 
a paper prepared by the late George B. Coburn and read before 
the Lowell Historical Society. 

Benjamin Franklin Vaenum 

Benjamin Franklin, the youngest son of General Joseph 
B. and Molly (Butler) Varnum, was born April 11, 1795. From 
the district school he attended the Westford Academy, where he 
graduated and for a short time he taught school in the district 
where he formerly was a pupil. When 18 years of age, he went 
to Washington, where his father was a senator, and for a brief 
period, he was clerk of a committee. The duties were of a 
nature to be pleasing to him, as in his later life, he was successful 
in similar pursuits. But home duties demanded his presence, 
as his four older brothers, disliking a farmer's life, had gone out 
into the world and held honorable offices in state and nation. 
The life of a farmer was distasteful to him and his inclination 
was to follow his brothers into public life, bvit there was no one 
left to attend to the farm and care for the parents in their de- 
clining years, and laying aside his own inclinations, he accepted 
the trust. 

The citizens of the town, realizing his ability, chose him for 
one of the selectmen, and in 1824 and 1825, he represented the 
town in the Legislature as Representative and the district as 
Senator in the six years that followed. 


On account of some oversight which was most unfortunate, 
the manuscript of the Vamum family was sent to the prin- 
ter incomplete. 

It is the more regrettable as this was the pioneer family, 
its members active in the settlement of the to^vn and the promo- 
tion of its welfare to the present time, and for its prominence in 
civil, military and political life. In an endeavor to do justice 
to the family and to the town, and to make partial amends 
for such incompleteness, these pages are added. 

The names of George^ and SamueP have been recorded and 
the line of Thomas^ will be given. It is as follows: Thomas* 
Thomas^ Thomas*' Thomas^. The last named is a successful 
farmer and, like his ancestors, lives on the ancestral acres. 
Thomas^ had a son, Jeremiah", 'Whose portrait is shown and 
sketch of life may be found on page 422. His son, Atkinson C, 
unlike his progenitors, who were farmers, chose a professional 
life, and after leaving Harvard College, he became a prac- 
ticing attorney in the City of LoweU. He was chosen to 
represent the 25th District in the Legislature. During the 
Civil "War, he served as paymaster with the rank of Major. 
He served on the board of selectmen, his home being then 
located in Dracut, as Pawtucketville had not, at that time, been 
anne.Kcd to Lowell. He was President of the Middlesex North 
Agricultural Society and member of the State Board of 
Agriculture. He enjoyed historical work, and much of Dracut 's 
early history has been preserved which would have passed into 
oblivion if it had not been placed upon record by him. John* 
had a son, Parker, who transacted legal business and was known 
as Squire Varnum. John* had a son, Jonas" who lived in 
the CoUinsville section. His son, Jonas*', inherited his father's 
'farm which he occupied during his lifetime. William P." 
li"^-ed near the outlet of Long Pond and with his brother, 
NatLanieP, were quarrymen and furnished foundations for the 

Lowell factory buildings. His brother, Nathaniel, owned the 
gristmill, as already recorded. William Parker, Jr.,'^ inherited 
the farm and mill which at present are owned by Joseph P.* 
Joseph,^ son of SamueP purchased Samuel Primes lot on 
Merrimack River, as recorded on page 89. Samuel* succeeded 
his father on the lot which at his death, passed to his son, 
Joseph B.^, whose biographical sketch has been recorded on page 
418. Benjamin Franklin** was the youngest son of Joseph B.^ 
and a sketch of his life is already on record. Joseph, Jr.*, had 
sons, Ebeuezers and Bradley.* Ebenezer* had a son, Preseott,^ 
who had a large family, only three of the sons Archibald O.'' 
John' and Henry' settHng in Dracut. Archibald 0.' was a 
successful farmer and he inherited his father's farm. Biogra- 
phical sketches of John and Henry have been recorded. 
Prescott'' was prominent in Dracut affairs and held the ofSee of 
Colonel in the Militia. 

Benjamin P.^ had sons, Henry Clay,' George W.' and 
John M.' The last named M-as a historian and the author of 
"The Varnums of Dracutt," a work of great value not only as 
a genealogy but as a history of the family. In common mth 
other families and as was the custom in New England at that 
time, this family owned slaves. But the system of slavery was 
mild and while they could be bought and sold and be disposed 
of by leaving them to others by will, all information leads to 
the conclusion that they were treated in a humane manner, and 
eared for when old age came on. 

While these pages record only members of the family 
who lived in Dracut and in common with the other old families 
have, for lack of space, only the record of such families, a study 
of the Vamum family will reveal the information that the 
descendants of these sturdy ancestors who have settled in other 
localities have been prominent in whatever occupation they have 
chosen. The military profession has been one in which they have 
been prominent. And as physicians, clergymen, lawyers, and 
men of business they have excelled. 


His duties as a farmer did not prevent his study of other 
professions, as he acquired the knowledge of surveying and 
when in 1826 the question of the boundary of the states, which 
had never been definitely settled was resumed, as related in a 
former chapter, he became a member of the commission from this 
state to determine the location. The duties of this commission 
did not produce definite results, but the work performed by him 
was so satisfactory that it had a great influence upon the final 
settlement many years after his death. He was employed by the 
towii to survey the streams, ponds and highways, an account 
of which may be found in another chapter. This survey was of 
great benefit to the town, as it preserves much that is valuable 
in the history of the town. 

The duties of the County Commissioners were at first per- 
formed by the Court of Sessions, but in 1828 this was abolished 
and a Board of Highway Commissioners, afterward known as 
County Commissioners, came into existence. He became a 
member of this first board on which he served until 1831, when 
he resigned to become high sheriff of Middlesex County, an office 
which he held for two terms of five years each. 

He served as clerk and executive officer of the Central 
Bridge Corporation when incorporated, and he foresaw the 
wonderful changes which were to take place in a few years. 
His home was on the heights in Centralville overlooking the 
river and he had planned an extensive water system, which was 
abandoned at his death. In 1820, he married Caroline, daugh- 
ter of Joseph Bradley, whose father, Amos, purchased the ferry 
in 1761, where Central bridge now stands. She was eminently 
fitted to become the wife of one of the prominent men of the 
County, and she will be remembered for her many virtues. His 
ambition led him to desire higher offices which he intended to 
endeavor to secure when his term of Sheriff had expired, but 
all earthly honors ceased when on January 11, 1841, his life 

Adjutant General John Vamum, son of Colonel Prescott 
and Lydia (Richardson) Vamum, was bom May 18, 1823. He 
received his education in the district schools of Dracut and chose 
for his life work the occupation of carpenter. At the termina- 
tion of his apprenticeship, he soon became a contractor, a busi- 


ness which he followed until the opening of the Civil War in 
1861. He enlisted early in the war and was promoted to the 
rank of captain of a company of colored infantry, and at the 
close of the war, he became a resident of Florida. He repre- 
sented his district in the State Legislature and was chosen 
adjutant-general of Florida. 

Henry Varnum, the seventh in descent from George, who 
lived in England, was the youngest son of Colonel Prescott 
and Lydia (Richardson) Varnum. He was a worthy citizen 
of the town, and while possessing sound judgment and good 
reasoning faculties, he had a retiring disposition, one which 
did not seek public office while well fitted for the duties. He 
was a farmer by occupation. He held the office of superintend- 
ent of highways several years and his services met the approval 
of the town. As superintendent of the town farm, he managed 
the affairs economically and with good judgment. 

Jeremiah Varnum was a descendant of Samuel, who, with 
Edward Colburn, came from Ipswich and settled in the wilder- 
ness afterward called Dracut. He was a worthy citizen of the 
town and while not holding office, endeavored in every way to 
promote the interest of the town. By occupation he was a 
farmer and his home was on Varnum Avenue near his birthplace. 
As a young man he was familiar with this locality when there 
were only a few farm houses where Lowell now is situated. He 
was an earnest active Christian and his daily life proclaimed the 
fact that he was a faithful follower of the Master, whose teach- 
ings and example it was his desire to follow. He was for many 
years a deacon in the Pawtucketville Church and he is buried in 
the Woodbine Cemetery. 


The uame is an English name and found in the early 
records of England, in 1520, spelled Paybody. The Peabody 
genealogy states that: "The name itself was variously .spelled 
even in the same parish and on the same document. The oldest 
and most prevalent form previous to the settlement of New 
England was Paybody. Two commoii words these syllables are, 
and perhaps they point back to a man or a succession of men 


in the fourteenth century (when surnames were chrystalizing) 
who paid the servants. Body meant person or individual, pay- 
body would earrj' the same idea as paymaster or paying teller. ' ' 

The same authority given the spelling as Pabare, Paybodey, 
Paybodye, Pebody, Pebboddy, Paibody, Pabody and Peabody. 
Antither writer records as follows : 

"The original name was Boadie, and the founder of the 
family, at the instigation of Boadicea, Queen of the Britons 
(who was publicly whipped before her grown up daughters by 
the order of the bloody Emperor Nero in the year 61), made 
a raid upon the tyrant, and even ventured into his palace and 
carried away the miniature picture of his wife Poppea, which 
was retained in the family till about the eleventh century. By 
this daring exploit and others, which much pleased the rulers 
of that day 'Pea' which signified a large hill or mountain, big 
man, mountain man, was added, and as then spelled was 
'Peabodie. ' " 

Lieut. Francis Peabody was born in St. Albans Hertford 
Co., England. When 21 years of age he, in the year 1635, 
having received a certificate of good character from the minister 
of his parish and been examined for emigration, sailed for 
America in the ship Planter. He lived at Ipswich until 1639, 
when he removed to Hampton, N. H., where he resided 18 
j^ears. He then removed to Topsfield, where he became a 
member of the board of selectmen and served as town clerk. 
At a town meeting held March 4, 1664 the town voted to "give 
liberty to Lieut. Francis Peabody to set up a grist-mill and to 
flow so much of the town's common as is needful for a mill so 
long as the mill does stand and grind for the tovm." His 
home was a few rods from the spot where his mill stood. He 
was probably a brother of John^ who also came from England 
at that time. 

John^ was born in England, and came to this country about 
1636, and lived at Duxbury. Francis^, born in England about 

1612, married Mary . William^, born at Hampton, N. 

H., married first Mary Brown and second Hannah Hale. Eph- 
raim*, born in Boxford, married Hannah Redington. NathanieP, 
born at Boxford in 1727, died August 17, 1778 ; married Hepsi- 
bah Barker of Andover. He was a soldier in the Revolution. 


His widow came to Dracut, and with her son, Amasa^, pur- 
chased of Daniel Hardy the land on Marsh Hill, a part of 
which was until recently owned by the descendants of 
Johni. Nathaniel'', born in Boxford in 1767, died in Dra- 
cut in 1844. He married Elizabeth Cole. Nathaniel^, born in 
1792, married, in 1822, Mary Gilchrest, and died in 1857. 
There were nine children in this family, all but two arriving 
at maturity. 

Nathaniel* married first Elizabeth Blackwell and second 
her sister Nancy, widow of Jonathan Clough, and died January 
25, 1917. John W.^, married Helen M. H. Colburn, and his 
home was formerly at New Boston village, but at present writ- 
ing he lives at the Navy Yard Village. Moses^, married Hannah J. 
Gregg of Windham, N. H., and at his death left three children. 
The son, Henry F.*, lived at the homestead and died in 1914. 
Ephraim", married Sarah P. Davis of Acton, and died in 1858, 
in California, leaving one son, Benjamin H.*, who died in 
Lowell. The Peabod.y farm laid in the range of lots in the re- 
served lands, south of the Colburn New Meadows and north of 
the Cedar Pond road. 

In the division of the farm, the Widow Hepsibah had the 
eastern half and her son, Amasa^, the western part, the last 
named was purchased later by Russell Fox. Hepsibah, in 1813, 
transferred her part to her son, Nathaniel", who, in 1833, 
di\ided the farm between his sons NathanieP and Moses'. 
Nathaniel' conveyed his share in 1846 to his son Nathaniel*. 
Henry F.^ inherited the eastern part at his father Moses'' death, 
as before mentioned. 


The name is often spelled Thistle and the families of both 
names claim relationship, as it was not unusual for one branch 
of a famih' to continue the original spelling and the other 
branch to change it. Richard Thissell and wife Abiah, came 
from Beverly, and in 1750 purchased land on Christian Hill 
of John and Olive Coburn, who owned a large tract on the 
southern part of the eastern half of the Russell grant, this half 
being known as Belchers. In a deed given 1768 from John 


White to Solomon Abbott of 110 acres, it is described as border- 
ing on a townway that leads from the road to Bradley's Ferry 
to Richard Thissell's land, the road to Bradley's Feriy being 
the present Bridge street. 

The Thissell farm which can be located was in the vicinity 
of the lower resevoir bounded on the west by Beacon street and 
until recently remained in the possession of the descendants of 
Richard.i Joshua- son of Richard and Mary (Mears) second 
wife, had sons, Nathan^, Joshua'^, and DanieP, who settled on 
this farm, but none of the name are left in the town. 

Tliere were three of the name in the Revolution one of these 
being Joshua^ the father of the three last mentioned, who mar- 
ried Lydia Mears of Billerica. Nathan*, son of Nathan^, inher- 
ited the homestead on the road to Methuen, later Methuen 
Street, and John Wallace*, son of DanieP, married Mary A. 
Fox, and lived on Broadway. His occupation was that of 

John Wallace Thissell was the son of Daniel and Prudence 
6. (Varnum) Thissell. He was born in Dracut September 4, 
1826, and died in 1916. He resided in Dracut until a few years 
before his death when he removed to Lowell. His occupation 
was that of a farmer and his skill in farming enabled him to 
acquire a competence. He was interested in the affairs of the 
town although he preferred to not hold oflBce. He was a con- 
sistent member of the Church at Dracut Center and was active 
in assisting and promoting every movement for the benefit of his 
fellowmen. Kind hearted and broad minded he won the re- 
spect of all who knew him. 


As the first white man to become a resident on the soil of 
Dracut, but not, as we have reason to believe, as a permanent 
settler, but as a speculator in the wild lands of the "Wilder- 
nesse, " John Evered alias Webb is entitled to a place in these 
biographical sketches. His early home was in Marlborough, 
Wiltshire, England, and he was in Boston as early as February 
9, 1634, when he was admitted to the church, being then called 
a single man. He was made a freeman in 1636 and lived as 


a merchant in Boston for several years, owning the site of the 
"Old Corner Book Store" on School Street. He removed to 
Chelmsford after 1650, where he trafficked with the Indians, and 
assisted in locating land grants. He was ensign and captain 
of a Chelmsford military company and a member of the Ancient 
and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston, and served as a 
Deputy from Chelmsford in the General Courts of 1664 and 
1665. In 1659, with three of his military associates, he was 
granted 1000 acres of land on the north side of the Merrimack 
River, as described in the chapter on Earl,y Grants. 

Webb bought the shares of the others and located on his 
property, which he called Drawcutt or Draycott-on-the-Merri- 
mack. He later had a grant of 500 acres on the east of Beaver 
brook, besides other grants in Dracut and by purchase ac- 
quired the Dummer grant in Tyngsboro. He was the owner 
at one time of about 3000 acres, the greater part of which 
was purchased by Edward Colburn and Samuel Varnum. 
In 1668, the j'ear in which Varnum purchased his land, Webb 
was drowned in Boston harbor. Rev. Samuel Danforth of Rox- 
bury states as follows: "17th 8th month 1668 Mr. John Webb 
alias Evered was drowned, catching a whale below the Castle. 
In coiling ye line inad\'isedly he did it about his body think- 
ing the whale had been dead, but suddenly She gave a Spring 
and drew him out of the boat. He being in the midst of the 
line but could not be recovered while he had any life." 

At his death, his widow, Mary, sold to Edward Colburn all 
the real estate that remained after her husband's death which 
included the Colburn New Meadows North of Marsh Hill. 
Captain Webb was successful in gaining the good will of the 
Indians and secured from them titles to his lands which later 
was to be a part of the township of Dracut. 


Joseph Morrison Wilson's birthplace was at Boscawen, 
N. H., but his residence, since he arrived at the age of three 
years, has been in Dracut and the portion of Dracut now within 
the Lowell limits. He has served two terms as Representative to 
the General Court and served four years as councilman under the 


old city charter. He has been active in every movement which 
would lead to better conditions in Pawtueketville. He has 
made a thorough study of the Indian History of the Merrimack 
vaUey, and his contribution to the chapter on Indian History 
in this work is of great value as it presents clearly the earliest 
history of this race of people. 


Solomon Wood, of Bradford, had lots in the reserved lands 
laid out to him in 1710 to 1721. None of his children's births 
are recorded on the town books and it is not known that he 
ever became a resident of the town. The ancestor of the 
greater part of the family of that name in Dracut was Benja- 
min^, who came from Bradford. He was born in 1687 and 
died in 1755. He had several lots of laud laid out to him, on one 

of which he settled. He married first Elinor , second 

Mary , third, in 1744, Ruth Merrill. 

According to his will we learn the children's names, Joseph, 
Benjamin, Stephen, Ebenezer, Simeon or Simon, Josiah, Abigail, 
Elinor and William. To the last named he bequeathed the 
homestead on Broadway, afterward purchased by the town for a 
town farm. Stephen^, born in 1722, located on Christian Hill, 
and married Jane Phillips. Their son, Solomon^ enlisted at 
the age of 19 and was in Captain Peter Coburn's company at 
Bunker Hill. He married Eunice Hall, and his home was on the 
old Methuen road between the present Pay place and Methuen 
street. Their daughter, Eunice, married Guillaume Louis Rose 
Fortune Berson. 

Mons. Berson had an eventful life. Born at Port-au-Prince, 
in the island of St. Domingo, June 21, 1780, he was sent to 
college in Paris, but on account of the insurrection of negroes 
in St. Domingo and the Revolution in France, he lost his prop- 
erty and was obliged to earn a living by manual labor. When 
he was twenty years old, he enlisted in the French navy and 
was taken prisoner by the English, who at that time were at 
war with Napoleon Bonaparte, and carried to Guiana. There 
he was exchanged and made armorer on the Berceau, which 
was a corvette carrying twenty-four guns. The United States 


and France being antagonists at this time, his vessel was cap- 
tured by a British sloop of war and brought to Boston, at 
which place he left the navy and having previous to enlistment 
learned the trade of watchmaker and jeweller, he resumed this 

At this time all work of this nature was, like shoemaking, 
performed by hand and he could locate in a small room and 
manufacture his wares. Eunice Wood, with her sister, Persis, 
were employed in Boston, and, becoming acquainted with the 
young Frenchman, Emiice became his wife and they removed 
to Draeut, locating in the Benjamin Hovey house at Hovey 
Square. The birth of a son, Guillaume, born July, 28, 1805, 
is recorded in Draeut. He later removed to Salem. 

Mr. E. Henry "Wood in "The Genealogy of the Wood 
Family," says: "In 1815 he sold out in Salem and started with 
his family for the West Indies on the schooner Elizabeth with 
the purpose of improving his fortune. It proved an unfortu- 
nate undertaking. They arrived safely at Guadaloupe, but 
sickness compelled them to return at a season when our sea 
coast is liable to be visited by terrific storms of wind and rain. 
The captain and mate died of yellow fever, leaving the second 
mate and Mr. Berson to manage the schooner alone. It was then 
their fate to encounter one of these storms, which lasted fortj'- 
eight hours, during which many things were thrown overboard 
to lighten the vessel, among which it appears was the chest 
containing the family Bible with the family record. All hope 
seems to haA'e been lost. The father gathered his little family 
about him and commended them to the safe keeping of the 
Great Father who rules the storm and watches over his children. 
But the end was not yet come. The critical moment passed; 
the storm subsided and the vessel was able to reach the port of 
Norfolk, Va." 

Here his wife died thirteen days after their arrival. He 
removed to Blountsville, West Tennessee, where he died Jan- 
uary 25, 1856. Many of his immediate descendants, sons and 
grandsons became jewellers. Simeon'^ served in the French 
and Indian war, and was among the English soldiers who was 
present at the dispersion of the Acadians, as described in the 
chapter relating to wars. Josiah^, son of Stephen^, married 


Mrs. Salla Wood, and their son Josiah* married Martha 

and kept a store at Dracut Center. His son, Benjamin F.^, 
married Elizabeth Durant and lived on a farm on Greenmont 
Avenue. They were the parents of George H., and Millard F. 
"Wood of Lowell. 

William, son of Benjamin^, inherited his father's farm and 
married Abigail Fox. His son, Samuel P.^, and daughter, 
Hannah, who was the wife of Jonathan Crosb}'^, sold the farm 
to the Town of Draeut, and it became the town farm. Amos', 
son of Ebenezer-, married Mercy Whiting, and lived on Chris- 
tian Hill, near the upper reservoir. Micajah*, his son, was 
born in 1793, and married Rachael Richardson. They also lived 
on the same hill. The cellar of the house may be seen east of 
Mount Pleasant Street. Samuel*, another son of Amos, born in 
1786, married first Harriet daughter of Colonel Lewis Ansart 
and second Patience Kendall. He kept a grocery store at Dracut 
but later removed to Lowell, and engaged in teaming, conveying 
the products of the mills to Boston and bringing back merchan- 
dise for the stores, as this was before the steam roads existed. 
His son, Samuel N.^, was born in Dracut and was a dealer in 
grain and flour in Lowell. Six of the name were in the Revolu- 

Solomon^ and Eunice were the parents of twelve children. 
Among them were Solomon* and Stephen*. Solomon married, 
in 1806, Ruth Welch. In his endeavors to earn a living for his 
family, he removed from place to place, and finally went West 
to start anew in a new country. But it was not home for them 
and they removed to Dracut in 1820, settling in the part now 
annexed to Lowell. Having lost his wife by death, he married 
again; but as the second marriage was not of an agreeable na- 
ture, he made his home with his daughters, dying in 1868. 
Stephen*, married Chloe Fox, and lived on Marsh Hill. He 
died September 9, 1849, aged 61 years. Their children were 
Stephen, born 1818; Ephraim, bom 1819; Elizabeth R., born 
1816 ; Solomon, born 1823 ; Eliphalet F., born 1824 ; William. 


Russell, or Rousel, is said to be from the French and 
means red haired or complexioned. The English Russells are 


probably descended from John Russell, Duke of Bedford in 
the reign of Henry VIII. (Dixons surnames). The family 
line in America is: 

1. John lived at Woburn; died 1676; married first, Eliza- 
beth , who died in Woburn in 1644; married second, 

Elizabeth Baker. 

2. John, born 1661 ; died 1680 ; married Sarah Champney. 
They had seven children. 

3. John, married 1682 Elizabeth Palmer. They had eleven 

4. Stephen, born 1687 ; married Ruth Harris. 

5. Stephen, born 1722, died June 3, 1800; married Abigail 
Gage of Bradford, October 25, 1743. 

Children: Lydia, married Ephraim Hall; Abigail, married 
Simeon Coburn; Sarah, married David Fox, Jr., Elizabeth, 
married Eliphalet Fox; Pate or Pattey died at age of five 
years ; Stephen, died at age of two years. 

Among the many parcels of land purchased by Stephen 
Russell, Jr., Blacksmith, the earliest, is dated February 14, 
1755, and consisted of four acres near the land of Joseph Col- 
burn, Jr.'s homestead, which was later the Hovey house at 
Hovey Square, and as no buildings are mentioned, it seems 
evident that he built the old house now standing on Pleasant 
Street, east of the square. 

He was a large and fine looking man and must have made 
a good appearance as captain of the Dracut company, which was 
in the battle of Bunker Hill. He was one of the company of 
Dracut men who conveyed timber to Newburyport by means of 
rafts on the river. He had mechanical skill and a table made by 
him is in the Dracut museum. He is reported to have made a 
violin in one day and played on it at a dance in the evening. 
His daughers were musical, each taking one of the four parts, 
Abigail singing base. He was kind and gentle and a lover of 
children, and when they "made their manners," as it was 
called, he would say they were good children. 

The record of his funeral services is taken from the Inde- 
pendent Chronicle printed in Boston under date of June 9, 


Stephen Russell 

"Departed this Life at Dracut, on the 3d inst after a 
short but painful illness, Capt. Stephen Russell in the 78th 
year of his age. He was a kind and affectionate husband, a 
tender parent, a benefactor to the needy, and a friend to man- 
kind. His ingenuitj', honesty & industry in his various pur- 
suits in life, contributed much to his usefulness in society. The 
citizens of the town, anticipating the part which duty might 
require them to act in defense of their Country's Rights in the 
late Revolutionary War, early made choice of him as their 
military commander, which he cheerfully accepted, and for 
many years discharged the duties of that office at home and in 
the field of action, with reputation to himself, and honor to his 
countrj-. He was a true friend to order and good government; 
but a steady persevering opposer to tyrranny and usurpation. 

He delighted in Rational Liberty founded on Republican 
Principles, Patriotism and Philanthropy were innate virtues of 
his soul. He was a constant attendant on public worship, and 
a strict adherer to the principles of morality. He lived highly 
respected and died much lamented. 

P''rom a grateful sense of the early part which Capt. Russell 
took in our Glorious Revolution, the important military serv- 
ices which he rendered, at a period all important to the Liberties 
of his country; his uniform principles of Republicanism and 
benevolence through life, his remains were interred on the 5th 
inst with military honors. After a very pertinent and affecting 
prayer by the Rev. Solomon Aiken the funeral procession mov- 
ing from the dwelling house of the deceased with solemnity, in 
the following order ; Two companies of infantry, commanded by 
Capts. Varnum & Hildreth with solemn music with arms re- 
versed, next the gentlemen present who had borne military 
commissions since the commencement of the Revolutionary War ; 
then the corpse, followed by his aged widow, children, grand- 
children, and other relatives, and a large body of respectable 

When the troops reached the burial ground, they formed, 
resting on their arms, until the corpse, relatives and others 
passed, and the body was deposited ; the troops then discharged 
three volleys over the grave. 


The officers in and out of command and the troops attended 
the widow and relatives from the grave to the dwelling house 
of the dec'd; the companies were then marched to their place 
of parade and dismissed. 

The military honors and other ceremonies were performed 
with solemn and decent deportment; each countenance seemed 
to express the heartfelt respect justly due to the deceased, and 
all retired with a gloom demonstrative of the last and final 
farewell of an affectionate friend." 

He was instructor in military tactics of the Minute Men of 
Dracutt, having gained his knowledge from watching the British 
soldiery at their drills when he went to Boston — perhaps with 
farm produce. 

"When the Provincial Congress thought proper to continue 
the Royal arrangement of the militia into regiments and com- 
panies as the best adapted rule of proceedure under existing 
circumstances, and agreed that there should be enlisted 12,000 
men to act as Minute Men on any particular emergency, the 
volunteer companies of Dracutt, being attached to good order 
and government, reassumed their standing as private soldiers, 
and the whole company again organized and made choice of 
Stephen Russell as Captain, Ephraim Coburn as 1st Leftenant, 
Simon Coburn as 2nd Lt. and Abraham Coburn as Ensign. These 
were all respectable gentlemen, considerably advanced in life, 
but all of them almost totally uninformed in tactics and military 
discipline. In order to acquire a degree of necessary information 
in military matters they employed Joseph Bradley Varnum as 
an Instructor both to themselves and the men under their com- 
mand, in which capacity he continued to serve them until after 
the Revolutionary "War." 

Abel Coburn 

Abel Coburn was a descendent in the sixth generation from 
Edward^ He was born in Charlestown, Mass., August 24, 1816, 
and died October 2, 1894. He married Julia Ansart Varnum, 
and their home was on Varnum Avenue. His occupation was 
that of stone mason, but in later life he was a farmer. In 1871, 


he became a mail carrier and carried the U. S. mail between 
Lowell and Windham, N. H., until 1877. He was a deacon in 
Pawtucket church for thirteen years and was the chairman of 
the Board of Selectmen in 1874. He was strictly honest in his 
dealings with his fellowmen and was a worthy citizen of the 


James Blood came to America in 1639 with his sons, Robert, 
James, Richard and John. Richard was one of the earliest 
settlers of Groton, and the ancestor of the Dracut family. The 
first names recorded on the town books are the children of 
Abraham and Martha: 

David, born November 5, 1751. 

Martha, born August 4, 1757, died February 3, 1848. 

Coburn^, born September 15, 1759, married Jane Coburn, 
March 4, 1788. 

Sarah, born November 24, 1761. 

Hannah, born December 28, 1763. 

Coburn, Jr.^, born February 9, 1789, died April 24, 1860; 
married August 8, 1816; Clarissa G. Coburn, born October 15_. 
1790, died July 26, 1856; one child, Orford R.S born in 1826, 
married Ann M. Tabor, born in 1825. 

Coburn^ held the office of captain in the days of compulsory 
training, and his son, Coburn^, was a colonel in the militia. 
David^ was in Capt. Stephen Russell's company in the Rev- 


THIS history is now completed and an earnest endeavor has 
been made to include all subjects of interest to the readers 
and to present every available fact relating to such subject. 
To a great extent information based on tradition has been ex- 
cluded and every effort made to record statements after sub- 
jecting them to proof. The record is a record of the past; the 
future of the town is yet to be enacted. That it will continue to 
keep pace with the march of improvement, there can be no doubt. 
Its resources are not yet fully developed, its broad acres can pro- 
vide homes for a multitude of people without congestion, the 
enterprising spirit of its citizens will be manifested in the in- 
creased efficiency in agriculture, its manufactures and in educa- 
tion. The spirit of liberty, which existed in the time of our an- 
cestors, not only in the time of the Revolution, but in the early 
settlement of the colonies, when oppressed by the royal governors, 
has been shown by their descendants whenever the clouds of war 
have gathered or the problems of peace have presented themselves 
to be solved.